Henry Moore, Draped Seated Woman, 1957-8. Courtesy of London Borough Tower Hamlets and reproduced by permission of the Henry Moore Foundation. Photo: Jonty Wilde

"Old Flo" to be sold at earliest opportunity

Geraldine Kendall, 30.10.2013
London boroughs remain at odds over ownership of sculpture
Tower Hamlets Council has confirmed that it will go ahead with the sale of its £17m Henry Moore sculpture “at the earliest opportunity”.

Draped Seated Woman, also known as “Old Flo”, had been scheduled for auction in February this year but was pulled from sale after its ownership was contested by Bromley Council and the Art Fund.

The ownership claim was put forward based on research by the Museum of London (MoL), which uncovered a paper trail appearing to show that ownership of the statue had not been transferred to the new Tower Hamlets local authority after the London County Council and Greater London Council (GLC) were dissolved.

Tower Hamlets dismissed the challenge as a “desperate PR stunt” at the time. A council spokesman said this week that the challenge had not been substantiated and the council was now working with Christie’s auction house to prepare a timetable for the sale.

The 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.”

But Bromley Council said it had not dropped its ownership challenge. A spokesman said: "Our position is a matter of public record and it has not changed – we continue in the assertion that the sculpture was vested in Bromley on the dissolution of the GLC for the benefit of all of London.

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

The artwork was transferred by long-term loan to Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) in the late 1990s following the demolition of the Stepney housing estate where it previously stood. 

It remains on public display at the park and a YSP spokeswoman said no updated news on its status had been received from Tower Hamlets for some time.

Tower Hamlets council hopes to use the cash from the sale to offset £100m budget cuts.

The MoL and the Art Fund said they would continue their campaign to save "Old Flo".

Update
31.10.2013


Bromley Council has confirmed that it has not dropped the ownership claim. The article was edited to reflect this and include a response from the council.

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