A rare blue and white moonflask from the Ming Dynasty fetched the highest price, selling for £2.3m

Croydon ceramics disposal falls short of £13m target

Geraldine Kendall, 27.11.2013
17 items sold in Hong Kong earlier today
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”.


Sort by: Most recent - Most liked
06.12.2013, 09:40
No comment, because we just have to agree to disagree. To argue with you would be a complete waste of my very valuable time.
04.12.2013, 21:24
Most people had never heard of Riesco and were not in the least bit interested. They are interested in the Fairfield Halls, though. It's only Labour people who are kicking up a fuss. The whole thing is political.
05.12.2013, 21:46
Where is your evidence that "It's only Labour people" who are objecting? You don't know the political views of the many who oppose this Philistine act. Most people probably haven't seen a Titian painting. Would that be an excuse for flogging one off to a foreign buyer?

What's your agenda, Ms Giles?
05.12.2013, 21:53
No comment.
05.12.2013, 21:58
No good answer, more like!
04.12.2013, 18:24
If the cost of insurance and security was so significant, why didn't the council offer the collection to e.g. the V&A or another public museum?

Anne Giles' apologia is pathetic and clearly poiltically inspired.
04.12.2013, 18:11
Anne Giles is wrong in her comment below. It had nothing to do with the political agenda, and was simply driven by stupid Conservative Councillors wanting to use the money for refurbishing the Fairfield Halls which is a building NOT owned by the Council and for which the people should not be asked to pay for. The people of Croydon who use the lIbrary are well aware of the Riesco collection displayed near the entrance to the library and the community tried to find the funds to challenge the sale. If the money were being used to build a proper museum and not the inadequate spaces of the Clocktower, most of which has been closed and the picture collections not seen for a decade, then the sale might have been justified; the truth is that the people of London, not just Croydon, have been denied access to collections that are theirs, and that has, for many years included the Riesco Collection.
MA Member
04.12.2013, 16:28
I worked with this collection for a number of years, and during that time it was not insured. It is frustrating that so much misinformation has crept into this debate.
28.11.2013, 09:11
It is not true that the local community objected to the sale. The majority of the population in Croydon Borough did not even know that the Riesco ceramics existed, nor did they care. It was only a handful of Labour supporters who objected, because they wanted this Tory Council voted out. Many of us were in favour of the sale. The cost for insuring these items and for the security were unaffordable. The proceeds will be used for the much needed refurbishment of our beloved Fairfield Halls.