The world is full of Joe Scarborough paintings

The Bel-Air home owned by late author and romance novelist Jackie Collins was one of four properties she owned. Photograph: CNN Style.

Sometimes you stumble across something quite astonishing. This tale of the unexpected involves local artist Joe Scarborough, famous for bringing to life the everyday scenes of Sheffield, and Jackie Collins, nicknamed the ‘Queen of Trash’ for her 32 novels – featuring the sexual gymnastics of heroines including the mafia princess Lucky Santangelo and the insatiable supermodel Fontaine Khaled – selling more than half a billion copies.

Born in London in 1937, Collins’ first novel, “The World is Full of Married Men” was published in 1968 and established Collins as an author who dared to step where no other female writer had gone before. She followed it year after year with one successful title after another, including “The Stud” and “The Bitch,” both adapted into films in the 1970s starring her actress sister, Joan Collins.

The 1980s saw Jackie Collins finding her stride when she published “Chances,” the first instalment in a sprawling family saga introducing the strong, sexy and powerful Lucky Santangelo. Soon after came the seminal 80s blockbuster, “Hollywood Wives” which was adapted into one of ABCs highest rated mini series.
Joe Scarborough has exhibited at Museums Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University, and in 2008 was awarded a star on Sheffield’s ‘Walk of Fame’.

Collins settled her family in sunny California in 1980, and had her home designed by architect Ardie Tavangarian, a man inspired by the clean lines of Swiss-French early 20th-century architect Le Corbusier.

The two-story Bel Air home had a guesthouse in the back, connected by a 100-foot-long gallery displaying artworks.

Enter Joe Scarborough, born in Sheffield in 1938 and raised at Pitsmoor, who began scribbling art on the back of reports his steelworker father brought home from work. After years spent working in the coal mines, Joe held his first solo art show at the age of 26, and quickly made a name for himself with his multicoloured paintings, which feature anonymous four-inch figures and scenes inspired by the 1950s and 60s.

In 1987, looking to add a splash of colour to her new mansion, Collins spotted a painting by Joe Scarborough and commissioned him to paint three pictures. The first of these – a scene of Blackpool – was sent to California in 1988.

Images from Jackie Collins’ mansion taken from auction catalogues in 2017. Photographs: Bonhams.

Jackie Collins died of breast cancer in September 2015 while Joe Scarborough continues to paint on his much loved narrowboat on the canal.

In 2017, the contents of Collins’ mansion were sold at auction by Bonhams in Los Angeles. Sure enough, within the pages of the glossy catalogues were Joe Scarborough’s three masterpieces, although none depicted scenes of Sheffield. Between them, the three paintings – Blackpool, Cricket Match and City Scene – fetched US$6,500 (£4,664).

Blackpool by Joe Scarborough. It sold for US$2,500 (£1,794). Photograph: Bonhams.
Cricket Match by Joe Scarborough. It sold for US$2,000 (£1,435). Photograph: Bonhams.
City Scene (Outside The Two Chairmen Pub) by Joe Scarborough sold for US$2000 (£1,435) in an online auction. Photograph by Bonhams
Joe Scarborough is self-deprecatingly northern, with a thrifty mindset and a clear-eyed understanding of the magic recipe that led to his colourful cityscapes arriving above every other mantelpiece in Britain’s steel city.” – The Guardian 2019.

© 2021 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.