Search

Moore’s ‘Draped Seated Lady’ up for auction, Tower Hamlets mayor vows

PUBLISHED: 07:56 08 November 2012 | UPDATED: 11:50 14 November 2012

Henry Moore’s famous ‘Draped Seated Woman’ bronze sculpture erected for the people of London’s East End 50 years ago is being sold off at Christie’s, Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman decided last night.

Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman defied a public outcry and calls by MPs and figures from the world of art and film not to auction the 8ft artwork—known as ‘Old Flo’, currently housed in the Yorkshire Sculpture Park—to the highest bidder.

He made the pronouncement at his cabinet meeting last night, in the face of a public petition signed by 1,500 people and an open letter by leading figures including film director Danny Boyle, Henry Moore’s daughter and Bethnal Green & Bow MP Rushanara Ali.

“We have huge savings to make—the government has forced us into lean times,” he told the cabinet.

“The position is still the difficulty of placing the statue in a safe place.

“I act with a heavy heart—but this is the position we’ve been put in.”

The money will go into “art, housing and heritage projects.”

He added: “We are working to a tough timetable—if we don’t act now it won’t be in time to be included in Christie’s catalogue until 2013. So I have decided to stand by my previous decision.”

He made no reference to the petition or campaign to retain the sculpture for the people of the East End.

Labour’s Cllr Ann Jackson, who presented a report to the cabinet from the previous night’s council scrutiny committee ‘calling in’ his decision to sell off the sculpture, later told the Advertiser: “I’m really upset for the residents who haven’t been consulted. No proper process has been followed—the mayor has just decided to sell it.”

Councillors had earlier noted that “no real alternatives” had been considered but to “sell the sculpture without care for the consequences or other viable options.”

Labour’s Heritage Spokesperson Denise Jones said: “The mayor refused to listen to residents’ views—it shows how closed-minded he is.”

Offers had been received to house the sculpture from the Museum of London Docklands, Queen Mary College—and even Bethnal Green’s Morpeth Secondary School.

MP Rushanara Ali said later: “The sculpture belongs to the people of the East End and should remain in public ownership and be available for everyone to enjoy as Henry Moore intended it.

“This is a betrayal of the East End’s working class heritage. The sale will only make a small contribution to the council’s budget and raises serious concerns about the Mayor’s wasteful use of public money to fund his extravagant lifestyle.”

The mayor’s cabinet member for culture, Rania Khan, backed the decision. She had told Tuesday’s scrutiny committee: “We have to make difficult decisions. Yes, it’s a beautiful piece of art, but that £20m would go a long way.”

Danny Boyle was among nine leading figures signing an open letter at the weekend urging Mayor Rahman not to sell the 1.5 tonne sculpture.

The letter stated that it went “against the spirit of Moore’s original sale on the understanding that it would be placed in East London.”

The presence of the sculpture in Stepney “demonstrated the post-war belief that everyone should have access to works of art of the highest quality.”

Others signing the letter included Moore’s daughter Mary Moore, MP Rushanara Ali, Wakefield MP Mary Creagh, the Henry Moore Foundation director Richard Calvocoressi and Tate Gallery director Nicholas Serota.

Henry Moore sold his sculpture for £6,000 to the London County Council in 1962 as a gift to the East End. It was erected in Jamaica Street where it remained until the Stifford housing estate was pulled down in 1997 and was sent for “safe keeping” to Yorkshire.

Latest East London News Stories

Yesterday, 08:00

Letters, contributions and comments sent in to the Advertiser this week.

Yesterday, 07:00

The first trains have been on trial test runs through east London on Crossrail’s new Elizabeth line at speeds up to 60mph.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Wondering what the weather has in store for us this bank holiday weekend? Watch our three-minute Met Office video forecast.

We achieved a great deal since I was elected in 2015 and I am humbled that the people of Tower Hamlets have put their faith in me again.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Hundreds of revellers are likely to head to east London for the annual Monday Bank Holiday street festival at the Star of Bethnal Green pub.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Travellers hoping to use the District line this afternoon can expect minor delays on the Tube due to a signal failure.

Friday, May 25, 2018

The first ‘Freedom of the Borough’ of the 21st century given by Tower Hamlets Council has been awarded to Commander John Ludgate as former as Deputy Lieutenant who escorted the Royal family on visits to London’s East End for 22 years.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Projects tackling air pollution are being offered cash by Tower Hamlets Council after a study has shown lung function of children aged eight and nine has been reduced by up to 10 per cent.

Newsletter Sign Up

East London Advertiser twice-weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read news

Show Job Lists

Competitions

Having a brand new kitchen is something that lots of people want but can only dream of. Sadly keeping up to date and making our living spaces as nice as they can be is a costly and incredibly stressful business. Even a fresh coat of paint makes all the difference but isn’t easy or quick.

Who wouldn’t love the chance to go on a shopping spree. Imagine being able to walk into a shop and choose whatever your heart desires without having to worry about how much it costs.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Docklands and East London Advertiser
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now