Peterborough icon Peter Boizot to auction off artwork

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HUNDREDS of pieces of art amassed by one of Peterborough’s most famous sons over a period of more than four decades go under the hammer tomorrow.

Peter Boizot (81), the founder of Pizza Express, former chairman of Peterborough United and ex-owner of the city’s Great Northern Hotel, has decided to auction his mammoth collection, totalling in the region of 750 pieces.

Sales room manager Gary Fairbanks and (rear) assistant Wally Green with The Peter Boizot collection of paintings up for auction at Richardsons of Bourne

Sales room manager Gary Fairbanks and (rear) assistant Wally Green with The Peter Boizot collection of paintings up for auction at Richardsons of Bourne

The hoard has, for a large part, hung on the walls of Mr Boizot’s restaurants, the Great Northern Hotel, in Station Approach, and his former art gallery in Broadway.

It is a mix of contemporary art, signed limited edition prints, originals, lithographs, screen prints and includes sections relating to Mr Boizot’s interest in jazz and railways, as well as Peterborough United and the city itself.

The pieces are being sold by Richardsons’ Bourne Auctions Rooms.

Proprieter Chris Richardson described the collection’s size as “exceptional” and said it included some “rarely-seen” works.

Among the star attractions are a number of signed pieces by the acclaimed Scottish artist Eduardo Paulozzi, a leading name in the pop art movement. One example even includes the message “For Peter – Happy Birthday”.

There is a signed piece by Peter Blake, the English pop artist best known for designing the album cover of The Beatles’ landmark Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, one of only 100 released.

These sit alongside pieces of more local interest, such as a set of four framed prints of churches in Stanground, Whittlesey, Boston, in Lincolnshire, and Peterborough Cathedral.

Mr Richardson said the collection was an “interesting reflection” of Mr Boizot’s life, but also the shopping habits of art collectors in the ‘80s and ‘90s, particularly in London where much of the buying power existed.

Mr Boizot said: “I’m naturally sorry to see it all go, but I decided rather than constantly think what I was going to do with them, I thought the best thing to do was to sell them. It’s a shame, but I don’t have a big chateau where I can hang them.”

He added: “I hope they fetch a good amount. I’m not expecting vast quantities from them. If I do get good money I shall keep it for the time being.”

FACTFILE... on Peter Boizot

MR BOIZOT was born in Walton, Peterborough, on November 16, 1929.

After attending St Mark’s School, in Gladstone Street, Peterborough, Mr Boizot went to The King’s School in the city where he was head boy.

He went to Cambridge University, where he studied history, before spending 10 years abroad.

He opened his first Pizza Express in Soho, London, in March 1965 after failing to find a decent slice on pizza after returning from his travels.

In the 1990s he invested in businesses in Peterborough, buying the Great Northern Hotel in 1993, the former Odeon cinema in 1996 and Peterborough United in 1997.