a campaign to keep a Henry Moore statue in the UK is “hanging by a knife’s edge”, a West Yorkshire MP has warned.
Wakefield MP Mary Creagh is fighting to stop the sale of the Draped Seated Woman, which has been on loan to Yorkshire Sculpture Park since 1997.
Lutfur Rahman, mayor of Tower Hamlets Council, which owns the bronze work, said its sale was “a stark choice in these times of recession” and members are set to vote next week on whether it should go up for auction.
But Labour MP Ms Creagh is appealing to the mayor to keep the artwork which was bought by the former London County Council for £6,000 in 1960 and installed on the Stifford Estate in Tower Hamlets two years later.
After suffering repeated vandalism the sculpture was lent to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, near Wakefield, to be restored.
No official valuation of the work has been made, but Tower Hamlets Council said estimates ranged from £4m to £17m.
Ms Creagh fears the sculpture will be bought at auction by an overseas private collector, “never to be seen again”. She added: “We understand the pressures that councils are feeling with 30 per cent cuts [to their budgets] from the Government but selling off the family bronze is the wrong way to go about clawing money back.
“Henry Moore sold the wonderful sculpture at a low price in 1960 to London County Council so it could be established on a housing estate. He believed great art should be for everyone and we want to see the artist’s wishes respected.
“It’s hanging by a knife’s edge but we are working very hard to keep [the statue] in the UK.”