Patience paying off as restoration specialists return music memorabilia to former glory

A family firm in Hull is becoming a hotspot for the restoration of music memorabilia after being tracked down by southern-based collectors.

Carolynne and Richard Hutchins with the sofa and jackets in their workshop.

The Leather Repair Company has just taken delivery of a sofa which adorned the cover of the final studio album by global pop icon George Michael.

Husband and wife team Richard and Carolynne Hutchins are now working on restoring the piece to its former glory for client David Huse, whose acquisition of the all-white artefact was inspired in part by his passion for Leeds United.

The couple are also completing the renovation of leather jackets from American rap stars Big L and Dr Dre sent to them by Daniel Riley, a photographer who intends to feature them alongside other garments and his own images in a London exhibition later this year.

David bought the sofa in an online auction in April after initially browsing with the aim of adding to his Queen collection, which includes a guitar signed by the band’s guitarist Sir Brian May.

The lot came with a poster for the cover of the multimillion-selling 2004 release “Patience”, a CD of the album signed by the singer and a copy of one of the platinum discs awarded. Also included was a certificate of authenticity showing that the sofa had originally been sold in 2012 at the Emeralds & Ivy ball, hosted by Ronan Keating in aid of Cancer Research.

David said: “I was attracted to it because it seemed a ‘cool’ thing to own, I think George was a great artist, and it needed work doing to it and I quite like a challenge!

“I also like the colour. I went to school in Chichester but then I headed to Bradford University – I wanted to be in the north so I could watch Leeds United.”

As the proud owner of the sofa, David now wants to get the piece restored so it can sit next to the guitar at his home in Surrey.

He said: “There’s an important connection because George sang at the Freddie Mercury tribute concert.”

David also hopes to find out more about the story behind the sofa. There’s no suggestion it was actually owned by the singer and it is considered more likely that it caught the eye of the album’s designers as part of the furniture at Sony Music or at the recording studio.

He said: “The album came out in 2004 but was eight years in the making, which maybe inspired the title and the image of George sitting and apparently glancing at his watch while waiting for something or someone.

“It’s not known who actually owned the sofa or what has happened to it since. I picked it up for less than £2,000 – a price that reflects the absence of a back story and the fact that the piece is rather battered and bruised.

“If it had been mint condition and with a bit more provenance, and if it had come from George’s lounge, we would have had to remortgage the house!”

Richard and Carolynne were already working on the Big L jacket for Daniel when the sofa arrived, and they have now taken delivery of the second jacket, both made by top brand Avirex.

Carolynne said: “There was a lot of wear on the Big L jacket with scuffs, scratches and a small tear but we’ve repaired all of that and re-coloured it and it’s now ready to go back to Daniel while we turn to the Dr Dre jacket and David’s sofa.”

Richard added: “Leather upholstery is what we do – whether from clients’ homes or cars – along with items including shoes, bags and of course jackets but we’ve only now been asked to help with music memorabilia.

“The sofa hasn’t been looked after and the leather hasn’t been fed and nourished. It hasn’t been stored properly. It’s probably been in damp conditions and it’s had animals on it – there are a lot of scratches on one of the arms.

“It’s been well-used and there was a time when it was well-loved and we want to take it back to those days. We are being trusted to get these things right because they are very important to the clients so they are very important to us.”

Like Daniel, David came across the Leather Repair Company after he followed up an online search with a phone call.

He said: “They were very responsive and very thorough. I sent them a lot of pictures and they said they can get it somewhere close to its former glory so I hired a van and took the sofa to Hull. I can’t wait until the day when I can go back, pick it up and bring it home, but it’s all about patience!”