Tower Hamlets council agree to sell Moore sculpture
Councillors in Tower Hamlets have agreed to explore options to sell the borough's Henry Moore Sculpture.
Members of the Cabinet made the decision to sell off the multi-million pound Draped Seated Woman, affectionately known as Old Flo, which is currently on-loan to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
It may now be offered up for auction at Christies as soon as February next year.
Old Flo was bought by London County Council in 1962 for £6,000 and installed in the Stifford Estate but, following its demolition, she was loaned to the Yorkshire venue to prevent vandalism or theft.
Ahead of the meeting, Mayor Rahman said the council was faced with a "stark choice".
He said: "Do we keep this valuable sculpture in Yorkshire or do we try to sell this globally important artwork in order to release much-needed funds to invest in local heritage projects we can sustain, affordable housing, improving opportunities and prospects for our young people and keeping our community safe?
"If returning the sculpture to this borough is not a realistic value for money option we need to give serious consideration to selling the artwork."
But opposition councillors for the Labour Party slammed the proposed sell-off as revealing the "dire state" of council finances.
Cllr Carlo Gibbs, Labour's spokesperson for resources, said: "Desperately selling off everything just to pay the bills is yet another quick fix, when what the residents deserve is a Mayor that will put the councils finances back in order in the long term."
Cllr Peter Golds, leader of the Conservative Group, expressed the body's disgust about the lack of investigation into moving Old Flo to Canary Wharf.
"This was gifted to the East End by the former LCC and it will be sad if it is sold and lost to not only Tower Hamlets but the country, as I suspect some sort of person who could pay £18million for a Henry Moore is hardly likely to display it to the public.
"There has been no consultation on this - just a snatch and grab, by an administration that values self-promotion rather than heritage."
The decision was made yesterday evening, Wednesday, after The Wharf had gone to press.
See next week's edition and wharf.co.uk for updates.