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Tug of war over Moore sculpture worth millions

There is a tug of war over a Henry Moore sculpture worth millions of pounds.

It's officially called Draped Seated Woman but is nicknamed Old Flo and as we reported last night - Bromley Council say they own it and they want to put it on public display.

But Tower Hamlets say it's theirs, but they want to sell it and have revealed they're speaking to lawyers about the situation. So, who's right and why is there such confusion? And will this tug of war end up in the courts? Piers Hopkirk has been finding out.


Tower Hamlets councillor: 'We may have to settle this matter in court'

It is such a pity that on the very day the government announced a further £23m of cuts in cash terms to our local residents over the next two years, a London Council and an Arts organisation choose to compound the financial pain by seeking to block a sale that would fund much needed homes and services.

Unfortunately we may have to settle this matter in court using funds that would be better spent on purchasing art for the nation and funding local services in both Bromley and Tower Hamlets.

– Tower Hamlets councillor Rania Khan, Cabinet member for Culture

Tower Hamlets: Ownership debate is an 'insult to the East End'

Following the challenge by the Art Fund, joined by Bromley Council, over the decision to sell Henry Moore's Draped Seated Woman, Tower Hamlets Council has obtained firm legal opinion clearly identifying the borough as the owner of the famous artwork.

The ownership of 'Old Flo' is beyond doubt. Following the two major London local government reorganisations in 1965 and 1985 there are many examples of assets, including artwork, being transferred with land or houses without being expressly named in the documentation of the time.

If Bromley owned the sculpture why have they stayed silent for 27 years?

This move is an insult to the East End as we need the sale proceeds to help alleviate the impact of government cuts by improving housing, preserving local heritage sites and supporting cultural programmes.

– Mayor of Tower Hamlets Lutfur Rahman

VIDEO: Moore sculpture causes row between London boroughs

Following its joint campaign with the Art Fund to save Henry Moore's Draped Seated Woman - aka Old Flo - the Museum of London has responded enthusiastically to the London Borough of Bromley's assertion that it owns the artwork.

Bromley Council has written to Tower Hamlet's Mayor Lutfur Rahman challenging his right to sell the much-loved sculpture. This new development follows the presentation of powerful new evidence that could stop the sale.

Bromley's decision follows many hours of detailed archival research conducted by the museum's specialists and others. The paper trail they uncovered shows that when the London County Council was abolished in 1963, the ownership of Old Flo was not transferred to Tower Hamlets Council.

The sculpture remained instead the property of the GLC, until the GLC's own abolition in 1985. Old Flo, along with other former assets of the GLC were vested in the GLC's London Residuary Body, and transferred to Bromley Council.

Boris welcomes progress in finding London home for statue

London Mayor Boris Johnson. Credit: PA

Following recent developments relating to the ownership of the Henry Moore statue, Draped Seated Woman, the Mayor of London has welcomed news that Bromley Council has asserted ownership and pledged not to sell the beloved art work.

The Mayor is delighted that Councillor Stephen Carr, Leader of Bromley Council has committed to displaying it for the benefit of the public, as Henry Moore intended.

The Mayor is keen to work with the council, alongside other partners including the Art Fund, Museum of London, the Tate and Henry Moore Foundation, to find a suitable London location as soon as possible.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: "This is fantastic news from Bromley Council and I welcome Councillor Stephen Carr's vision for Old Flo's future. Its only right that she is given a public home so she can help enrich the lives of those around her, just as Henry Moore intended.

"The Museum of London Docklands has offered to provide this and it would be wonderful if we can work alongside the council to bring her back to the people of East London as soon as possible."


Bromley Council claims it owns Henry Moore statue

Bromley Council has claimed it owns a statue which Tower Hamlets Council is about to sell. The statue which is nicknamed Old Flo used to belong to the Greater London Council which was abolished in 1985. Tower Hamlets assumed responsibility for it but Bromley Council says it is actually the owner.

If Bromley's claim is true, it would put an end to Tower Hamlets' plan to raise money by putting the statue up for auction.

Government cannot stop sale of Henry Moore statue

Draped Seated Woman is due to be auctioned next year. Credit: PA/PA Wire

The Culture Minister Ed Vaizey has said the Government is powerless to stop the sale of a Henry Moore statue which belongs to Tower Hamlets Council. The council is putting the work called Draped Seated Woman up for auction because of a funding gap.

Mr Vaizey said it would be "lamentable" if the statue was not on display. He added that the only action that could be taken is if an independent committee recommended an export ban on the statue - but it could still be bought by a domestic buyer.

Boris wades in to sculpture row

Boris Johnson has urged Tower Hamlets to reconsider its decision to sell off a multi-million pound Henry Moore sculpture.

The council has decided to auction "Draped Seated Woman" (also known as Old Flo) in order to pay off its debts. It's currently on loan to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park - but the Mayor would like to see it returned to east London. He said it would be a tragedy for the artwork to be lost.

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