Croydon ceramics disposal falls short of £13m target

17 items sold in Hong Kong earlier today
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Geraldine Kendall Adams
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Croydon Council’s sale of 24 Chinese ceramics from its Riesco Collection has fallen short of its £13m target and is on course to raise less than half of the anticipated amount for the council.

Seventeen lots were sold through Christie’s in Hong Kong this morning, fetching £8.24m in total.

That figure includes buyer’s premiums, which amount to 22.5% of the value of each object sold and go directly to the auction house. Commission, transport, catalogue and other related costs will also be deducted from the amount, which should leave the council with approximately £6-£7m from the auction.

A spokeswoman from Christie’s said that there was still a chance that the seven remaining lots would sell post-auction.

The council is planning to use the money raised by the sale to refurbish local arts centre Fairfield Halls.

A council spokesman said: “The council is pleased that 17 of the items sold, some of these for more than was expected. This will provide significant investment for culture in Croydon.

“The amount we will make from the sales is still being collated, and a final total may be some days away yet. We will be considering our options regarding any unsold objects.”

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.

The Treasury granted an estate duty [inheritance tax] remittance on the collection on condition that it be preserved and kept permanently in the UK. It is as yet unclear whether this will now need to be repaid.

The sale has faced fierce opposition from the local community and was ruled to be unethical by the Museums Association (MA), which has barred Croydon Council from future membership as a result.

Arts Council England has also discussed stripping the council of Accredited status and is due to make its final decision public next week.

The MA’s head of policy, Maurice Davies, said the sale was “a tragic day for museums”. He said the shortfall called into question the ability of local authorities and museums to understand and participate in the complex art market.

Davies added that the fact that a permanent export licence had been granted for the sale raised the question of whether the export licensing system was “still fit for the 21st century”.



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