Councillors unite in last ditch effort to prevent Old Flo sale

The proposed sale of Henry Moore’s Draped Seated Woman may yet be called off after councillors united to urge Mayor of Tower Hamlets Lutfur Rahman to reconsider the decision.

Motions urging the mayor to postpone the sale – scheduled for early next year – in order to explore all other options to keep ‘Old Flo’ in the borough were passed at Wednesday night’s full council meeting.

Conservative group leader cllr Peter Golds attacked the decision to sell off the sculpture, describing it as “absolutely outrageous.”

“This administration has gone from being a national laughing stock to being an international laughing stock”, he added, referring to global press coverage of the saga.

“Whatever money you get will be ring-fenced and you will not be able to use it for bribes and whatever else”, he added, addressing Mayor Rahman.

Labour councillors added that the options to keep the sculpture in the borough had not been exhausted, and attacked the council’s decision to rely on valuations attained by only one auctioneer, Christie’s. It has been suggested that the sculpture may reach up to �20m, although this figure is widely disputed.

However, cabinet member for culture cllr Rania Khan joined Mayor Rahman in rejecting the possibility of selling the sculpture.

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Mayor Rahman said the decision was a result of the council’s need to make �100m savings over four years.

He said: “It was with considerable regret that I made the decision to sell ‘Old Flo’ but I have a duty to ensure residents do not suffer the brunt of the horrendous cuts being imposed on us.”