Artist Hockney's assistant died after drinking acid - inquest

LONDON Fri Aug 30, 2013 8:47pm BST

Visitors observe works by British artist David Hockney during the presentation of ''David Hockney. A Bigger Picture'', at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao May 14, 2012. REUTERS/Vincent West

Visitors observe works by British artist David Hockney during the presentation of ''David Hockney. A Bigger Picture'', at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao May 14, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Vincent West

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LONDON (Reuters) - An assistant to British artist David Hockney died after drinking drain cleaner at the painter's home following a drug and alcohol binge, a coroner ruled on Friday.

Dominic Elliott, 23, was the subject of a number of portraits by Hockney, one of Britain's most influential living artists famous for colourful landscapes and portraits.

Hockney, 76, said in a statement on Friday that he was asleep and unaware that Elliott had drunk the liquid after taking cocaine, ecstasy, alcohol and cannabis with his partner John Fitzherbert.

Fitzherbert is Hockney's former long-term partner and still lives at the artist's home in Bridlington in northern England and runs his domestic affairs.

After a two-day inquest, Paul Marks, coroner for Hull and East Riding, said there were no suspicious circumstances and no evidence that Elliott had intended to take his own life, according to media reports. He recorded a verdict of misadventure.

Hockney, who was born in northern England but spent decades in the United States, said he was devastated by Elliott's death.

"He was unaware of the events that took place. He greatly valued Dominic's work as his studio assistant," a spokeswoman said on the artist's behalf. "He sends his sincere condolences to Dominic's mother, family and friends at this very sad time."

(Reporting by Belinda Goldsmith; editing by Tom Pfeiffer)

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