A Million Dollars Worth of Art Disappeared From the Walls of a London Drinking Club

The Colony Room shut down in 2008, and walls of art went down with it

empty wooden bar with booze in the background
The Colony Room was once home to walls of artwork. Where did it all end up?
Getty Images/iStockphoto

A massive collection of artwork vanished from The Colony Room when the Bohemian drinking club in London shut down in 2008, and the artists who left it there still want to know what became of their work.

Artist and writer Darren Coffield explores the legacy of the elite club in the new book, Tales from The Colony Room, an oral history featuring accounts from some of the many prominent artists and creatives who once frequented the legendary space.

One thing he heard from most of them, Coffield told the Daily Beast, were questions about the missing artwork they’d left behind there. It was common for the club’s elite crowd to hang their own art on the walls. Some pieces are quite valuable, including an early Damien Hirst painting worth an estimated half a million dollars. But when the club shut down, the art went with it, and hasn’t been seen since.

According to the Daily Beast, the pieces are thought to have been taken by the club’s owner, Michael Wojas, when he closed the club in 2008. Wojas, who was battling a drug addiction at the time of the club’s closure and died of cancer two years later, never revealed what became of the art he is suspected to have swiped.

“The most frequent question I was asked while writing this book was, ‘Whatever happened to my artwork?,’” Coffield told the Daily Beast. “Sometimes it was the children of the artist asking that question. For all we know it could be in a lock up somewhere, rotting. No-one knows. It’s an enigma.”

Tales from The Colony Room was published in April, and Coffield’s new exhibition about The Colony Room opens at the Dellasposa gallery in London this week.

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.