Moore sculpture sell-off hits snag

A council’s plan to sell a Henry Moore sculpture has hit a snag as another local authority has said it owns it.

Lutfur Rahman, mayor of Tower Hamlets in east London, decided to sell Draped Seated Woman to claw back money lost in budget cuts.

The sculpture, known as Old Flo, was originally sold to London County Council (LCC) by Castleford-born Moore at a below-market price in the 1960s on the understanding it would be placed in east London.

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Tower Hamlets assumed responsibility for it after Greater London Council (GLC), which replaced the LCC, was abolished, and it has been loaned to Yorkshire Sculpture Park, near Wakefield, for the last 15 years.

But now the London borough of Bromley has written to Tower Hamlets to say it owns it.

It said the sculpture remained the property of the GLC until its dissolution in 1985 and was then transferred to Bromley.

Bromley Council leader Stephen Carr said: “This sculpture must remain in public ownership which is line with the original principles of Henry Moore himself.

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“The idea that selling this internationally recognised sculpture will somehow tackle the financial situation facing Tower Hamlets is flawed.

“The monies raised would not protect front-line services for very long and would stop future generations appreciating this national treasure.”

Leading figures from the art world such as film director Danny Boyle, Moore’s daughter Mary and Tate boss Sir Nicholas Serota oppose the sale while London Mayor Boris Johnson has also urged Tower Hamlets to reconsider.

Art Fund director Stephen Deuchar said Bromley’s evidence should stop “Tower Hamlets’s cavalier plans” going ahead.

Tower Hamlets Council has acknowledged it was a tough decision but one which was made due to the “massive Government cuts we are facing”.