Collection of paintings by famed chimp to go on sale for $250,000

Congo's work is still in demand

By Rory Sullivan, CNN
Getty Images via CNN

Fifty-five paintings by a chimpanzee -- whose works have been acquired by the likes of Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró and the Duke of Edinburgh -- will go on sale at a London gallery in December, collectively priced at around £200,000 ($247,000).

(CNN) - Fifty-five paintings by a chimpanzee -- whose works have been acquired by the likes of Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró and the Duke of Edinburgh -- will go on sale at a London gallery in December, collectively priced at around £200,000 ($247,000).

Desmond Morris, the famed ethologist and painter who owns the collection, has decided to sell them at the Mayor Gallery in London. They will be priced between £1,500 ($1,850) and £6,000 each ($7,400).

Congo the chimpanzee rose to artistic fame in the 1950s when he featured alongside Morris -- now 91 -- on a British television program called "Zoo Time," which was broadcast from London Zoo.

Over a three-year period, the chimp completed 400 paintings in an abstract expressionist style. More than 50 years after his death in 1964 from tuberculosis, his work is still in demand.

In 2005, three of his pieces sold for an unexpected £14,000 at Bonhams auction house in London -- far above the estimate of between £600 and £800.

James Mayor, director of the Mayor Gallery, told CNN that many of Congo's paintings are "actually very good."

"He was a fascinating painter," Mayor said. "People would imagine he'd just grab a pencil or a paper, but...he'd have several colors and he'd think before he painted...He was extraordinary."

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