Elton John has closed an exhibition of images that he owns amid controversy over a picture depicting two naked girls that is at the centre of a police investigation.

The controversial image was due to be displayed as part of an exhibition of photographs by renowned photographer Nan Goldin at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead, Tyne & Wear.

The centre has confirmed that it has closed the entire show ?at the request of the Sir Elton John Photography Collection?.

The show, which opened on 21 September, was due to run at the Baltic Centre until January 2008.

On the singer?s website, Jane Jackson, curator of the Sir Elton John Photography Collection, explained: ?It was always intended that the installation be exhibited as a whole, and not on a piecemeal basis, and our decision has been made with regard to the artistic integrity of the work and the artist.?

The Baltic Centre gallery added: ?After the removal of one image from the series it was no longer possible for Baltic to exhibit the collection of works as the artist intended and, therefore, Baltic is sympathetic to Sir Elton John?s request and supportive of the decision.?

Police last week indicated to Amateur Photographer that it could take some time for the results of an investigation into whether the offending photograph, removed from the exhibition just before it opened, breached child pornography laws.

A Northumbria Police source told AP last week that the case is a ?slow burner?.

A gallery official reportedly alerted police to the offending image at a private view, a day before the exhibition opened to the public.

The music legend was reported to have defended the photo. A statement on his website reads: ?The photograph entitled ?Klara and Edda belly-dancing? (1998) is one of 149 images comprising the Thanksgiving installation by renowned US photographer Nan Goldin.

?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 Devils Playground?? has been offered for sale at Sotheby?s in New York in 2002 and 2004, and has been previously exhibited in Houston, London, Madrid, New York, Portugal, Warsaw and Zurich without any objections of which we are aware.?

At the time of writing, the New York-based Matthew Marks Gallery, which represents Goldin, had yet to respond to our request for a comment.

Sir Elton John began collecting photos in 1991 while visiting friends at a photography festival in France. It was there, it is said, that he first began to appreciate photography as an art form.

See here for our article two months ago when we published a few pictures from the show, supplied to us by the Baltic Centre.