Seller says he can't wait to get rid of the item following negative press and threats
Former members of Joy Division have hit out at the sale of – and media reporting on – a kitchen table formerly owned by the band’s frontman Ian Curtis. Meanwhile, the man selling the table says he can’t wait to get rid of it.
In a statement issued to NME, the band write: “Joy Division original members Bernard Sumner and Stephen Morris would like to lend their voice of support to Deborah and Natalie Curtis, who have been caused great distress over media reporting of the sale of the table originally owned by the family, and currently being auctioned on eBay.”
It continues: “Deborah and Natalie would like to point out that the sale of this table has nothing whatsoever to do with them. The table was sold along with the house in 1980 and Natalie has never signed any authentication document. Furthermore, they consider the sale of a personal family item, and the subsequent media reporting, to be distasteful and upsetting.”
The man selling the table, Tel Harrop, says that he was careful when wording the listing not to focus on the more macabre aspects of the object, which was present in the room where Curtis took his life in 1980. “When I put the listing on I could have said a lot of things but I didn’t want to, you know. I would have bought the table if it had been his lounge table – I just bought it because it was an unusual item. Everyone’s got the records – I‘ve got the table. This band has been my life for years.”
A huge Joy Division fan, he says he only realised the table was kept in the frontman’s kitchen when watching the Ian Curtis biopic Control. “I went and saw the film and I saw the table was in the kitchen and how close it was to the clothes horse [pulley] above it. I thought, ‘Oh my God’. I felt a bit weird about it. People started reporting that he used it in his suicide, which I believe is not true, and I started thinking, ‘Where is this coming from?’ You realise why a lot of people don’t trust the press.”
Asked how he feels about the distress caused to Curtis family, Harrop says he feels “really unhappy”, but does point out that the table has, in the past, been offered to both Deborah and Natalie Curtis. “I don’t know what to say,” he says. “I can’t un-exist the table. Reading the headlines that have gone around the world, I’m really unhappy with that, and it’s caused me distress because of the things that have been put out. My picture is on the listing and people have been saying, ‘If I see that guy…’ you know.”
“I can’t turn the table on the table story. I’m upset the way its gone but I didn’t put it on for the money, I just did it for good intentions. I want the sale to end now because it’s all got out of hand. At the end of this it might not even sell – with 10 minutes to go there might be a bunch of retracted bids and I may end up with it.”
Addressing the band’s statement about signed certification of the item’s authenticity, Harrop correctly states that he does not claim to have signed documents from Deborah or Natalie Curtis in the item listing. Instead, he has emails and documents regarding the table from both women, plus documents from Dorothy Smith, the woman who bought their house and ran it as a B&B, her daughter Vicky and the editor of a Joy Division fansite. He acknowledges the emails weren’t sent for the express purpose to authenticate the table’s sale as a piece of memorabilia.
Harrop has been selling all of his Joy Division collection to buy recording equipment for his own musical projects. “Trying to follow this band has cost me with my own musical ambitions because instead of buying stuff to record my music on, I’ve been spending thousands of pounds OCD-ing on Joy Division, and I’ve done it for years, he says.” The first bits of kit he’s bought are currently being stored on the table itself, which is kept in his office having been banned from the main part of the house by his wife. Other items in his collection included actor Sam Riley’s copy of the Control script, which sold for £500.
The current high bid on the listing, which ends today (November 13), stands at £8,100 with 62 bids placed as of midday.