Boyle backs call to halt statue sale

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Olympics opening ceremony director Danny Boyle has backed a campaign to stop a cash-strapped council selling a Henry Moore sculpture worth millions of pounds.

The mayor of Tower Hamlets Council, one of London’s poorest boroughs, announced the sale last month to cope with budget cuts.

Boyle has joined the artist’s daughter, Mary Moore, and other leading arts figures in calling for the Draped Seated Woman, known affectionately as Old Flo, to be saved from falling into the hands of a private owner.

He said: “The Moore sculpture defies all prejudice in people’s minds about one of London’s poorest boroughs. That alone makes it priceless to every resident.

“Let’s put it in the Olympic Park alongside the Bradley Wiggins Bell.”

The sculpture was created by Henry Moore, a well-known socialist, in 1957 and sold to London County Council at a fraction of its market value on the understanding that it would be displayed in a public space and might enrich the lives of those living in a socially deprived area.

It was displayed at the new Stifford housing estate at Stepney Green in Tower Hamlets until 15 years ago when it was loaned to Yorkshire Sculpture Park, after the Stifford estate was demolished.

In an open letter to the Observer led by the artist’s daughter, said: “We appreciate that times have changed and that the costs of protecting the sculpture are demanding, but we believe that there are a number of sites in the borough where the work could be safely sited for the benefit of the community.”