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Worry over other councils selling off public art

Art experts are warning of a wave of public art sales by local authorities after Tower Hamlets agreed to sell their Henry Moore sculpture.

The borough's mayor Lutfur Raham has decided that the piece, currently sited in Yorkshire and worth around £20 million, should be sold.

The chairman of the Public Monuments and Sculpture Association has raised concerns that other councils will now be tempted to put a price tag on their public works of art.

Multi-million pound sculpture to be sold

A London council has decided a multi-million pound sculpture created by Henry Moore would be more useful translated into cash.

It was originally sold by the sculptor - for a massively reduced price - on condition it be displayed in a socially deprived area.

But in a meeting tonight Tower Hamlets Council decided to sell it off in order to pay its debts.

Councillor Shahed Ali says the money will be ploughed into services that will make a big difference to the local community, but the decision has been criticised by Sharon Ament from the Museum of London.

Ria Chatterjee reports.

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More calls for council not to sell sculpture

Henry Moore's sculpture Draped Seated Woman Credit: PA

Film director Danny Boyle and the director of the Tate have joined calls for Tower Hamlets Council not to sell a Henry Moore sculpture.

"Draped Seated Woman", worth an estimated 20 million pounds, was sold by the artist to London County Council for just 6 thousand pounds in 1960, on the understanding it would be placed in East London.

It spent many years outside a tower block in Stepney but is now on display in Yorkshire.

Tower Hamlets Council wants to sell it to raise money, but campaigners, including the sculptor's daughter, have written to the mayor appealing for it to be saved and returned to the East End.

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Tower Hamlets 'considering how to use assets to generate funds'

Henry Moore’s Draped Seated Woman was bought in 1962 specifically for the residents of the Stifford Estate in Tower Hamlets.

When the estate was demolished in 1997 she was loaned temporarily to Yorkshire Sculpture Park whose visitors have enjoyed the benefit of this piece for over 15 years.

Very few of those visitors have come from Tower Hamlets.

Like other councils we are considering how best to use our assets to generate much-needed funds to invest in local heritage and priority projects that our community can benefit from and enjoy.

A decision will be made as to the future of the piece at the Cabinet meeting next week.

– Tower Hamlets Council spokesperson
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