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.
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.
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).
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