Police have seized a photograph owned by singer songwriter Sir Elton John as they believe it breaches child pornography laws.

The image taken by renowned American photographer Nan Goldin was due to go on display as part of her Thanksgiving series at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead when a concerned member of gallery staff contacted police yesterday.

The photograph Klara and Edda Belly Dancing features two semi naked young girls playing.

It has attracted controversy as one of the girls is sitting with her legs open.

The photograph was on loan from Elton John’s private collection. An official statement from his website read:

“The photograph exists as part of the installation as a whole and has been widely published and exhibited throughout the world.

“It can be found in the monograph of Ms Goldin’s works entitled The Devil’s Playground (Phaidon, 2003), has been offered for sale at Sotheby’s New York in 2002 and 2004, and has previously been exhibited in Houston, London, Madrid, New York, Portugal, Warsaw and Zurich without any objections of which we are aware.”

Elton John is one of the world’s foremost collectors of photographic art and has several thousand photographs in his collection, including works by Man Ray, Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, Diane Arbus and Ansel Adams.

Goldin’s fine art and documentary based work, which is often inspired by her own experiences has attracted controversy in the past.

Police received complaints about her photographs featuring naked children at an exhibition at London’s Saatchi Gallery in 2001.