Patience pays off with restoration of iconic sofa from George Michael album cover

Carolynne and Richard Hutchins of the Leather Repair Company sitting on the sofa with satisfied customer David Huse.

Last Christmas David Huse decided he needed a showstopper centrepiece for the music room of his home in Surrey.

This year he gave himself something special – the iconic white leather sofa which features on the cover of Patience, George Michael’s last studio album.

To save him from tears, a family firm in Hull have now completed the restoration of the piece, which had become battered and bruised in the years since the photograph was taken more than 20 years ago

David drove to Yorkshire to collect his prized possession and place it on display in his home by Christmas Day, the seventh anniversary of the singer’s untimely death.
“Unbelievable. Amazing,” he said.

“It’s much more than I expected because I remember exactly what it was like when I brought it here. The transformation is like night and day!”

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

He spotted the sofa and was attracted to it by his high regard for George Michael and the singer’s performance in the Freddie Mercury tribute concert. A Bradford University graduate with a passion for Leeds United, David was also lured by the stunning white finish.

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 just put a bid in and three weeks later I was told I had won! Then I had to think about how to bring it back to life. If I’d had it re-upholstered I’d have lost the history and provenance so I did some online research.”

His determination to restore the original look led him to the Leather Repair Company, founded by Richard and Carolynne Hutchins and based in Hull.

Richard said: “David gave us a call and then sent photographs. The sofa was faded, and there were dirt marks, lipstick and dog hairs. They added to the intrigue and also to the challenge, but we knew we could do it to we asked him to bring it in.”

David dropped off the sofa in August and Richard and Carolynne got to work on it in between attending leather repair trade shows in the United States, delivering training to other businesses from around the world and restoring other items including leather jackets from American rap stars Big L and Dr Dre.

Their work also provided a few clues as to the history of the sofa. Patience was released in 2004 but was eight years in the making. David’s view is that the absence of a back story coupled with the poor sale condition of the sofa is reflected in his purchase price of £1,600, but he is encouraged by the new findings.

He said: “Richard had to take it apart to complete a full restoration and he found all sorts – a hair clip, lipstick marks and dog hairs among the general grime and dirt which had accumulated during years of poor storage and a lack of love.

“But we know George Michael loved dogs and there are photographs of him with them, including on a gleaming white sofa. As far as I’m concerned the hair clip was his. As for the lipstick, who knows and who cares? It’s just a shame we didn’t find any scraps of paper with scribbled lyrics to hits that got away!”

Carolynne added: “It’s been a fascinating and painstaking project. We always do the very best we can, whether it’s a £20 favourite handbag or something like this, because they are so important to our clients. We did find ourselves wishing the sofa could talk and what stories it might be able to tell.”

David is confident the sofa will become a big talking point alongside his piano and Sir Brian May’s guitar, with the framed discs on the wall behind.

He said: “We’re already speculating about which celebrities might have sat on it, and we’re having a lot of fun making connections with George Michael’s song titles. This was a project of patience and faith. If we get bored with its current location we can always move it to a different corner. And if people are still here in the early hours after coming round to see it I’ll tell them to wake me up before they go go!”

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