Tower Hamlets insists Old Flo will be sold “at the earliest opportunity”

Henry Moore's 'Old Flo' erected in Stepney in 1962

Henry Moore's 'Old Flo' erected in Stepney in 1962 - Credit: Henry Moore Trust

Henry Moore’s £17m Draped Seated Woman sculpture is to be sold off “at the earliest opportunity”, Tower Hamlets council has insisted.

Despite an ongoing legal dispute over who owns the piece, known as “Old Flo”, the local authority remains adamant it will be sold.

It was first earmarked for sale almost a year ago in November last year as Tower Hamlets council sought to makes savings of £100million over a four year period.

The sculpture had been due to be auctioned at Christie’s in February, but was withdrawn after a legal challenge over ownership was lodged by fundraising charity the Art Fund and Bromley Council.

A Tower Hamlets spokesman said: “The council still aims to sell the sculpture at the earliest opportunity and will shortly agree a timescale for this with its auctioneers.

“Following the initial approach from Bromley Council regarding ownership there has been no substantiation of the claim of ownership and as a result there is no change in the council’s position on the sale.”

The sculpture was erected in the 1960s on the Stifford estate in Stepney, but was relocated when the development was pulled down in 1997. It remains on public display at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, to where it was moved around 16 years ago.

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The Museum of London has previously uncovered a paper trail which it says shows ownership of Old Flo did not transfer to Tower Hamlets after the London County Council and Greater London Council (GLC) were dissolved.

Bromley Council confirmed it would continue to challenge the borough’s ownership ahead of any potential sale.

“Our position is a matter of public record and it has not changed – we continue in the assertion that the sculpture vested in Bromley on the dissolution of the GLC for the benefit of all of London,” a spokesman said.

“This is a complex matter and we are taking legal advice whilst continuing our investigations.”

In order for the sale to go ahead, it would likely have to be completed before next year’s elections, as Labour and Tory councillors previously expressed opposition to it.