Controversial Sale of London’s Henry Moore Sculpture Will Happen, Despite Outcry

Despite an open letter signed by Tate director Nicholas Serota and London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony director Danny Boyle imploring Tower Hamlets Council not to sell the Henry Moore bronze “Draped Seated Woman” (1957-58) — and an offer from the Museum of London to accommodate the public artwork — the East London council will go ahead with the sale.

The council’s decision has been “judged rather harshly by the art world,” Tower Hamlets cabinet member for culture Rania Khan told BBC News. “We are not the first council to do this in order to benefit our residents and I am sure we will not be the last.”

The sculpture, which Moore sold at a major discount to the Tower Hamlets in 1960 for £6,000 ($9,500) on the condition that it remain on public view for the local East London residents, could bring the cash-strapped council between £5-20 million ($8-31.2 million).

“It is with considerable regret that I make this decision but I have a duty to ensure residents do not suffer from the brunt of the horrendous cuts being imposed on us,” Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman told BBC. “The cost of insuring the sculpture and threat of vandalism and theft has proved to be unreasonable.”

— Benjamin Sutton

(Image via Henry Moore Foundation.)