Henry Moore: Question raised over sculpture sale

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The sale of one of a Leeds sculptor’s most famous artworks could be in doubt.

Campaigners yesterday (Dec 11) claimed that the proposed sale of “Old Flo”, a work by Henry Moore, had been dramatically postponed at the 11th hour after new evidence came to light casting doubt on whether a London council even owned it.

However last night Tower Hamlets Council said that the proposed sale was still on and denied any knowledge of it having been called off.

The sculpture has been based at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park near Wakefield for the past 15 years but last month Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman announced his intention to sell it through auction house Christie’s as it tries to bolster its coffers in the wake of central Government cutbacks.

But after campaigners uncovered a complex history of legal transfers doubt was cast over who owns the sculpture. A formal legal challenge is underway but Tower Hamlets said it still planned to press ahead with the sale.

Draped Seated Woman, which is fondly known as Old Flo, has been housed at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park since 1997 when it was lent for restoration.

Wakefield MP Mary Creagh has led a campaign to keep the 8ft bronze statue in the UK, together with film-maker Danny Boyle, Tate director Nicholas Serota and the sculptor’s daughter Mary Moore.

Mary Creagh MP said: “It’s good news that the sale of old Flo has been postponed but we must get to the bottom of who owns it.

“Henry was the son of a miner, who sold Old Flo to the London County Council for less than its market value in the 60s, for people of the East End of London to enjoy after all they had endured during the blitz.

“There’s no way it should be sold off to the highest bidder and exported overseas to some billionaire’s private collection.”

A spokeswoman for Tower Hamlets told the YEP: “The sale is still going ahead as far as we are aware. We are aware of the legal challenge but the sale is still on.”

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