Sir Elton John: ‘I collect for the beauty, not the value. I’m in awe of these things’

By Sean O'Hagan

As modernist prints from his collection go on show, the star talks homophobia, Brexit Britain and how photography became his second greatest passion

• See our gallery of images from The Radical Eye, Elton John's exhibition at Tate Modern

I am standing with Sir Elton John in the lounge of his west London house looking at a wall hung with six black-and-white Cindy Sherman photographs from her series Untitled Film Stills. He is telling me how he came to own them. “I was sitting next to her at a dinner in New York for the New Museum and I said, ‘God, I love your stuff, Cindy, but it never comes up for sale.' And she said, ‘I want a new house. I'll sell you some artist's prints', and here they are, all six of them.”

Later, Nan Goldin‘s name comes up in conversation and he says that he owns a whole series of her work. “I remember going to Jay Jopling's White Cube when it was in Duke St, in London, and I was walking around this whole room of Nan's works and I said to Jay, ‘How can you buy just one of these?' He said, ‘Well, buy the whole lot, then.' I went, ‘How much?', and he told me, and I said, ‘You're on!'”

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Source: Sir Elton John: ‘I collect for the beauty, not the value. I’m in awe of these things’