Community group to challenge Riesco sale

Judicial review given £10,000 boost from donor
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Rebecca Atkinson
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A community group intends to submit a legal challenge to Croydon Council’s sale of the Riesco Collection after receiving £10,000 from an anonymous donor.

The council voted on 24 July to go ahead with the sale of the antique Chinese ceramics collection – meaning the three-month deadline to file a judicial review is this Thursday.

Steven Downes, the editor of the blog Inside Croydon, which is part of the group bringing the legal challenge, told Museums Journal the donation had enabled it to retain legal services to submit the challenge.

The community group will start accepting donations on its new website, riesco.org.uk, to help cover legal costs of an estimated £20,000. 

“We have to raise a serious five-figure sum so the concerns of the local community, who don’t want this collection sold in a pawn-shop sale pushed through by the council, can be properly and legally dealt with,” Downes said.

It is likely the judicial review will challenge Croydon's legal right to sell the collection based on information published by Inside Croydon that alleges the sale is against council policy.

A spokesman for Croydon Council said: “The council has acted legally as it is the absolute owner of the Riesco collection, as stated in the legal advice we received.

"The decision to sell a small part of the collection has been taken in exceptional circumstances for the future benefit of culture in Croydon.”

The auction of the 24 items from the ceramics collection is due to take place in Hong Kong next month. It is not clear whether the judicial review will disrupt the sale at this stage.

Maurice Davies, head of policy and communications at the Museums Association, said: “In view of the information that has come to light, I’m delighted that there is going to be a judicial review. This will give Croydon an opportunity to revisit the decision, which on reflection it may want to do.”



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