Stoneware narcissus bowl, 14th century, part of the Riesco Collection

Was Croydon right to sell the Riesco Collection?

Rebecca Atkinson, 02.12.2013
Vote in the poll and have your say
Croydon Council has sold 17 Chinese ceramics from its Riesco Collection at auction in Hong Kong for £8.24m, despite pressure from the Museums Association (MA) and some members of the local community.

The collection of rare ceramics was transferred into the council’s ownership in 1964 from the estate of local businessman Raymond Riesco, as part of an agreement by the council to buy part of Riesco’s land upon his death.

Croydon Council says the sale willl provide investment for the future benefit of culture in Croydon.

A local community group’s legal challenge to stop the sale was called off after it failed to raise sufficient funds. The MA has barred Croydon Council from future membership, and Arts Council England is due to announce whether it will strip the council of Accredited status later this week.

Was Croydon Council right to sell the collection? Vote in our poll and have your say.

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Was Croydon right to sell the Riesco Collection?



Comments

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Anonymous
MA Member
18.12.2013, 22:03
Can only hope the Treasury clamp down hard on Croydon for their illegal and unethical actions
Anonymous
05.12.2013, 10:21
I am a trustee of a small museum that was founded by and has been wholly run for the past 40+ years by volunteers. We are accredited by the Arts Council and, although voluntary, we strive to be professionals not amateurs. I hope that this shows that we understand the responsibility of having a valuable archive in our care. We receive no statutory funding but have managed to continue to operate by our own efforts and the generosity of grants and supporters.
I have followed the saga of Croydon Council's plan to sell part of its archive with incredulity. We have nothing to match the Riesco Collection but what we do have is beyond monetary value because it has been given to us by local people to conserve for future generations.
I have seen the Fairfield Halls in passing and agree that they need refurbishment but surely this fact alone shows that the Council has failed in its responsibility towards its assets. Times have not always been as bad as they are now.
If the people of Croydon do not know of the Riesco collection, that too is a condemnation of the Council. I applaud the Association action in revoking Croydon's membership.
04.12.2013, 15:38
The Croydon Council- N.B. NOT the people of Croydon- was absolutely wrong to deprive the Borough and the wider public of 24 magnificent works of art which could have inspired creative artists and increased appreciation of cultures beyond Europe. The Councillors' motivation may not have been disinterested and their means was underhand- until the last moment it was impossible to find out what was being sold. The role of Sotheby's and Christie's also deserves scrutiny- it was widely known that the Council's entitlement to sell was disputed.
Footnote: Pace Anonymous below, the collection was originally about six hundred pieces. Successive Councils failed to provide adequate curatorial care.
Stephen Allen
MA Member
Head of Learning and Programmes, National Museums Scotland
02.12.2013, 16:17
A disgrace. The councillors of Croydon who voted for this should be ashamed of themselves.
Anonymous
02.12.2013, 12:47
Raymond Riesco donated the whole collection of over 200 items “in trust for the people of Croydon”, and also donated his house and gardens (Heathfield) to the council upon his death.

However, the people of Croydon had no say in whether or not the ceramics should be sold.

In a purely coincidental circumstance, it appears that the current Mayor Croydon, Dudley Mead, has a background and knowledge in antiques.