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David Hockney: I’ve never been stuck in a lift before

David Hockney was stuck in a lift in Amsterdam (Victoria Jones/PA)
David Hockney was stuck in a lift in Amsterdam (Victoria Jones/PA)

David Hockney had to be rescued by Dutch firefighters after getting stuck in a lift.

The artist, 81, was in Amsterdam on his way to a Van Gogh Museum exhibition showing the link between the work of the two artists when his lift suddenly stopped.

BBC broadcaster James Naughtie was one of the nine other people in the lift, which was inside Hockney’s hotel, at the time.

In an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme afterwards, Naughtie told the artist: “You were very calm.”

Hockney replied: “Yeah, well, we were in there half an hour weren’t we?”

Asked whether it had happened before, Hockney said: “No, never.”

Naughtie said that Daily Mail editor Geordie Greig, a friend of Hockney’s, had been waiting for the artist in the lobby and “shouted to reassure us” while helping with the rescue efforts.

The Daily Mail said Hockney was offered a glass of whisky after the ordeal but replied: “No, no, a nice cup of Yorkshire tea would be perfect.

“I feel fine, I just need a cigarette.”

Broadcaster Naughtie  said: “We were coming down in David Hockney’s hotel next to the Van Gogh Museum so that we could find a quiet spot for the interview.

“A little crowd packed into the lift … It jerked to a halt, stuck. We pressed the alarm – nothing….

“Someone suggested pushing in the ceiling, because that’s what happens in the movies when people climb out by scrambling up the metal wires. No.”

After half an hour “we heard feet on the roof of the lift” and “the glimpse of a fireman’s uniform.”

The door “was wrenched back” and there were “cheers” from the crowd that had gathered in the lobby.

“Afterwards the firemen gathered round – they wanted a picture with Hockney,” Naughtie said.

Later, Hockney, who has been named the world’s greatest-living artist, said he was “flattered” to be the focus of the Van Gogh museum exhibition.

He said he had not stopped being curious, adding: “When I die it might be another adventure, I don’t know.”

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