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

Wondering what the weather has in store for us this weekend? Watch our Met Office video forecast.

Yesterday, 16:44

Two suspected phone snatchers have been arrested following a police chase through east and south London which ended when their moped crashed with a van.

Yesterday, 12:00

A large drug dealing gang who peddled their wares on the streets of Tower Hamlets are due to be sentenced today.

Yesterday, 09:15

A drug-smuggling gun runner who stored cannabis and equipment used to prep cocaine in a house in Poplar has been jailed for 17-and-a-half years.

Thu, 18:24

All the students taking A-levels at Whitechapel’s Swanlea Secondary have passed.

Thu, 16:00

Two directors of a convenience store in Bethnal Green where one of the largest haul of illegal alcohol was seized in the borough have been banned from running their own companies.

Thu, 14:25

A man has been rushed to hospital after he was hit by a car in Mile End today.

Thu, 14:19

A student from Canary Wharf has secured a place at university for September - accompanied by her guide dog.


Are you a landlord looking for a fixed rental income, paid whether the property is empty or not? Steve Westley, general manager at estate agents Elliot Leigh, explains their Guaranteed Rent Scheme and how it takes the stress out of letting your property.

Newsletter Sign Up

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

Our Privacy Policy

Most read news

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Docklands and East London Advertiser
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now