John takes back photos amid child porn concerns

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LONDON -- A British gallery that turned over a photo of two naked girls to police amid child pornography concerns has closed the exhibition at the request of Elton John, who owns the collection.

The BALTIC Center for Contemporary Art, in Gateshead, northeastern England, said it closed "Thanksgiving," an installation of 149 pictures by American photographer Nan Goldin, at John's request.

"After the removal of one image from the series it was no longer possible for BALTIC to exhibit the collection of works as the artist intended," the gallery said in a statement. "Therefore BALTIC is sympathetic to Sir Elton John's request and supportive of the decision."

The gallery alerted police Sept. 20, and authorities are investigating whether the photo violates child pornography laws, The Telegraph reported. Police confirmed they were looking at the picture to assess whether an offense had been committed, but have refused further comment.

John, who purchased the "Thanksgiving" installation in 1999, said last week that the picture, "Klara and Edda Belly-Dancing," had been exhibited across Europe and the United States without any objections of which he was aware.

A statement from Jane Jackson, curator of the Elton John Photographic Collection, that was posted Monday on the 60-year-old rocker's Web site said:

"We have made arrangements to close the 'Thanksgiving' installation at the BALTIC with immediate effect. It was always intended that the installation be exhibited as a whole, and not on a piecemeal basis, and our decision has been made with regard to the artistic integrity of the work and the artist."
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