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Art lovers in charity bid battle

Culture vultures are currently battling it out on cyber space to snap up the latest creation from celeb artist Graham Knuttel.

And the Diary can reveal how this quirky painting depicting the Mad Hatter's Tea Party has already attracted a bid of €6,500.

The big-hearted painter has given the 4x4 oil painting to the Irish Hospice Foundation to help it drum up some well-needed cash, and is naturally hoping that one of his well-heeled fans will shell out some serious cash for the picture.

Knuttel, who has a famous distaste for flesh-and-blood cats, said he was inspired to devise the work as it was the scene from Alice In Wonderland that he best remembered from his childhood.

"The characters are larger than life and all are at odds with each other," he said. "In a way, the scene is not too dissimilar to my usual imagery.

"However, one big difference is Lewis Carroll's smiling cats -- my cats never smile!"

The auction for the colourful piece will take place at Dundrum Town Centre on March 4, which also coincides with its forthcoming fifth birthday celebrations.

Doing the honours on the day will be Jane Beattie from Adams and, once the reserve price is achieved, the highest bidder will win.

One of Ireland's most successful artists, Knuttel's work has achieved him huge acclaim internationally and hangs on the walls of such superstars as Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Robert De Niro, Eddie Jordan and REM's Michael Stipe.