Elephant in the famous Burlington Arcade, painted by the artist Jack Vettriano, garnered the top price of $250,000 at auction.

The rich and famous city of London is often in the international eye for its many luxuries and diversions: London’s hotels – The Ritz, the Connaught, Claridges; its restaurants – Scott’s, Harry’s Bar, The Ivy; Covent Garden Royal Opera House; West End theater; world class museums – The British Museum, the Royal Academy of Arts, the Tate, the National Portrait Gallery, the Victoria and Albert; its cutting edge art galleries – Saatchi, Gallery, Hayward Gallery; its world famous auction houses – Sothebys, Christies, Bonhams and Phillips; it’s beyond comparison shopping on Regent, Oxford and Bond Streets with every designer boutique and fashion house imaginable. Harrods, Selfridges, Fortnum and Mason and Asprey have their own British trademark, and export to the world at a moment’s notice. The famous Saturday outdoor antique market at Portobello Road draws crowds from across Europe, rain or shine, for the thrill of bargaining for treasures and trinkets in the crowded stalls. The Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace continues to be a staple iconic British image along with photos of Her Majesty, the Queen at every newsstand.

Abstract expressionism on this elephant in Berkeley Square.

London has more than its share of innovative public and institutional art. During this summer, the city came together to save an icon of human history – the endangered Asian elephant. Over 250 artists and such celebrities as Marc Quinn, Tommy Hillfiger and Diane von Furstenberg, joined together to paint works of art on many fiberglass statue elephants. The elephants were placed in London’s streets, parks and historic locations and in front of high profile shops. The Elephant Parade became the city’s largest public art exhibition on record. It was a delight not only for children, who freely climbed and played on the sculptures, but also for locals and tourists alike. These fantastic creations were offered for sale at auction, raising £4 million ($6 million), at an average price of £15,000 ($23,000) with the top lot, an elephant designed by Jack Vettriano, selling for £155,000 pounds ($250,000). The Save the Elephant organization supports 10 projects across India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand, where the elephant population has plummeted from 250,000 to 25,000 in the past 10 years. The support ranges from rescuing abused street elephants, providing veterinary care, and helping remote farming communities to securing wildlife habitats.

To the delight of many children, Green Park was lined with a Parade of decorated elephants.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, described this event as a brilliantly, innovative way of using public art to benefit conservation. The next venues for the Elephant Parade include Copenhagen, New York City and Milan. It is worth a trip, just to see these wonderfully painted creatures and who knows – maybe you’ll come home with one and help save the elephant.

The most popular tourist attraction in London – the parks filled with elephants.


Great photo op on this fascinating creature of the jungle.


A shopper stops to enjoy one of the elephants in the Parade in mid London.


The archway leading from Regent Street to Swallow Street, home of several famous restaurants.

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