Gilbert & George, Gillian Wearing, Andreas Gursky, and the Chapman Brothers are but a handful of artists represented in the gallery Elton and his partner have constructed.
It has taken more than a year to build, was finished barely a month ago, and it nestles between their Berkshire country house, tennis court and finely-manicured acres of garden.
The Evening Standard reveals that it was designed by London architect Jack Schneider, it has waterfalls cascading down one wall, and copper cladding on another.
On the mezzanine level there’s an exhaustive library of art books indexed using the latest technology by a professional librarian and in the roof, hi-tech photo-sensitive grilles that control the light levels.
Elton has an office upstairs, with views from cleverly-placed windows into the gallery space itself and outside towards the garden.
David Furnish, who granted the Standard a tour, pulled out a concealed drawer to reveal a laptop.
He’s a complete computer-phobe, he whispered, but I’ve got it all set up for the BBC sports page. He can just about manage the football scores.
David spoke about the pianist’s reaction to the gallery.
Elton loves it. I’ve never known him give so many lunches and dinners as he has in the last two weeks. He wants to show it off.
Indeed, on June 25, plenty of people will see the gallery when it opens officially as the centrepiece of the annual fundraising gala for the EJAF, the White Tie and Tiara Ball.
In the gallery’s honour, the £30,000-a-table extravaganza is this year built around a contemporary art theme.
Appropriately enough, White Cube has taken a table, and artists like Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst, the Chapmans and Gary Hume are coming.
Regarding the guest list, David said:
We get requests from people who’ve never been before but we very much want to be loyal to the people who are loyal to us.
Asked if Lily Allen, who blew up at Elton at last year’s GQ Awards, would be allowed in, the filmmaker’s reaction was:
Sure, Lily’s coming. In fact, she’s staying at our house in the South of France right now. That whole thing was way over-played.
I got lots of texts the next day from people saying: how dare she speak to Elton like that?
I think Lily was upset by it but it was a bit of fun. They’ve always been friends.
When asked if it is annoying to be referred to as Elton’s ”husband,” David replied:
Initially it makes you laugh, and then you think beyond it. Actually, it makes me think the world is really changing and what a great thing it is that a man can be described that way at all.
Furnish went on to confess:
I used to have this utopian vision that maybe when he turned 65 we might be able to slow down and enjoy our beautiful homes. But I don’t think that day will ever come. I don’t think Elton is wired that way, and I’ve come to accept it. He’s too driven. He’s the most future-focused person I know, one of the least nostalgic.Once something is enjoyed, it’s in the past. He only interested in new music, for example, and new artists.
Furnish mentioned that a few years ago, he and Elton had considered adopting a Soweto child. After researching the boy’s background, they found he had a grandmother and two sisters, and was well looked after within his own community. But ever since, they have paid for this boy’s clothes, food and schoolbooks.
He and his family came to one of Elton’s concerts in Johannesburg, and he remembered Elton.
He’s five now. He gave us all big hugs and wouldn’t leave Elton’s side.
The record company came to present Elton with a couple of discs and this little boy is in all the photos.
But as all this was happening, his sister broke down in tears. She was sobbing: They’re going to take him away. And we were like, no no no: that’s not going to happen. It would be so wrong to break up a family like that.
The time for him and Sir Elton has passed, in any case. We’re too busy, and we’re not at the right stage in our lives. Maybe if we’d met 20 years ago
Meanwhile, they have a Ball to put on, and room for 650 attendees.
Justin Timberlake is doing the music and it’s going to be amazing, says Furnish.
We’ve had real pinch-me moments in the past Elton, Dionne Warwick and Burt Bacharach singing together.
Elton, Barry Manilow and Donna Summer. But this year, with Justin, it’s a fresh feel.
Even so, David appreciates the times he and Elton stay home and watch television.
Oh, those are the best nights. If I didn’t have those nights, I really couldn’t do any of the rest.