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Life-sized elephants designed by Scottish artist Jack Vettriano and Glasgow web hosting company Easyspace have helped a conservation charity raise more than £1 million pounds at a celebrity auction in London.

Hollywood stars Goldie Hawn and film-star turned socialite Elizabeth Hurley watched as Jack Vettriano’s elephant – based on his famous Singing Butler painting – attracted the highest bid of £155,000. Easyspace’s elephant ‘Cosmos’ – which was created by students at Glasgow Metropolitan College – raised £7000 having been purchased by  the brand’s parent company iomart Group.

The celebrity auction, held at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, marked the end of the Elephant Parade, a colourful public exhibition of 258 colourful life-sized elephants designed to raise awareness of the plight of the Asian elephant. In all over £1 million was raised – including monies from a raffle drawn by Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie of York. The funds will be used by the organising charity The Elephant Family and 15 other UK conservation charities on projects to protect the Asian elephant.

Jack Vettriano said he was “dumbstruck” by the price of his work but joked at the auction:  “I’m worth every penny. I was absolutely delighted to be asked to take part because it’s such a wonderful cause.”

Phil Worms, marketing director for iomart Group, said : “It was incredible seeing our Easyspace elephant being admired by film stars and royalty. The students of Glasgow Met did a fantastic job for us. We are delighted to have been involved in such a worthwhile fundraising event and we’re really pleased to be bringing one of Scotland’s elephants home.”
‘Cosmos’ will go on display at iomart Group’s headquarters at the West of Scotland Science Park once it is transported back to Scotland. It has previously been on display at Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum.

Worms added: “Easyspace has been involved with the Elephant Parade since its early inception last year, and has been donating cash raised from the sale of domain names to the Elephant Family’s Asian elephant campaign since last September.”

Mary Powys, project manager for the Elephant Parade, oversaw the auction. She said afterwards: “We are all walking on air today and iomart’s purchase of Cosmos added a further cherry to the cake! We would like to thank Easyspace for being the most wonderful supporter of this campaign and our work. It means a great deal to us.”

A second auction of the next tranche of Elephants is set to take place tomorrow, Saturday  3rd July, at the Chelsea Hospital, with the remainder being auctioned online.

More than 165,000 people have been to see the Elephant Parade display since the elephants were moved from the streets of London to the grounds of the Royal Hospital, home to the Chelsea pensioners, last week – that’s more than the number who attended the Chelsea Flower Show.