Fascinating images showing a famous lion that lived in a London flat in the 1960s eating steak, drinking from the loo and enjoying trips in a convertible car are to go on sale.
The pictures feature Christian the cub who was bought from Harrods in 1969 by Australians socialites John Rendall and Anthony 'Ace' Bourke.
They drove him around to parties in a Mercedes soft top and allowed him to roam free in their upmarket flat in Chelsea. Christian can been seen on the sofa, in the bathroom, watching tele and being taken to meet other London hipsters.
The pair raised Christian in their home above their Kings Road furniture shop - ironically named Sophistocat. It is believed that The Rolling Stones, who rehearsed nearby, would frequently drop by to visit ‘the two Aussies with a lion’.
Christian was eventually taken back to his origins in Kenya when he got too big. But incredibly years later John and Ace visited him their and the emotional reunion was caught on video.
As soon as the heart-felt video was uploaded the remarkable story of the two Australians and their lion cub came to light. Photographs of Christian in Chelsea, Randall’s London flat and Africa will be sold as part of Sworders’ Homes and Interiors sale on June 21.
A spokesman said: ''Rendall’s extraordinary story became known by a new generation when grainy footage was uploaded to YouTube a decade ago.
''It shows John and Ace being greeted with huge affection by a fully grown male lion as they meet in the African bush. Two year’s earlier, in 1969, John Rendall and Anthony ‘Ace’ Bourke, two Australians flat-sharing in Swinging London, had bought Christian as a cub in Harrods for £250 and raised him on a diet of steak in Chelsea.
''He lived with them above a Kings Road furniture shop taken to society parties in the back of an open-top Mercedes. The Rolling Stones, who rehearsed nearby, would frequently drop by to visit ‘the two Aussies with a lion’.
''An exotic animal in London was just a part of experimental Sixties London - at the time Harrods sold a variety of ‘pets’. However, following a meeting with the actors Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers, stars of the 1966 film Born Free, it was agreed that Christian would be flown to Kenya and placed in the care of the lion conservationist George Adamson.
''The transition to the wild at the Kora National Park was successful with Christian, weighing over 500lbs, leading a pride of lionesses and a dynasty of cubs. The events inspired Rendall to become a conservationist and created a lifelong affinity with Africa and its wildlife.''
Christian, born on August 12, 1969, was originally acquired by Harrods from a now-defunct zoo park in Ilfracombe, off the North Devon coast.
Christian's growing size and the increasing cost of his care led Rendall and Bourke to come to the realisation they could not keep him in London. Both Ace and John travelled to the continent in 1970 to return Christian to the wild.
One year after Adamson released Christian to the African bush, Ace and John decided to go looking for him to see whether Christian would remember them.It turns out he did - and the 1971 video shows John and Ace being greeted with huge affection by a fully grown male lion.
Photo collections of 'Christian the lion' and a separate auction of African tribal art John Rendall possessed upon his initial travels to Africa are on for sale with Sworders next month.
The latter collection includes 26 African tribal objects from drums and head rests to weaponry and will be sold on June 14 to 15. It features an early 20th century Beja tribe (Sudan) elephant hide shield and a large carved softwood figure of a snake from Central Africa.
A plaster maquette modelled in the form of a man embracing a lion, inscribed: 'Two Beautiful Beings, Happy John & a Lion Called Christian' is also expected to bring £100-150.