May 21 2013 Latest news:
Saturday, October 6, 2012
The controversial plan to sell off a Henry Moore bronze sculpture gifted to the people of the East End which may be worth £17million could now go ahead.
Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman told his cabinet to “explore options to sell” the sculpture because the council needs the money.
Moore’s 1957 Draped Seated Woman would be sold to raise cash for “local heritage projects” and schemes including housing and “improving opportunities and prospects for youngsters”. Although the sculpture has not been valued a Moore sold for £17m earlier this year.
The artwork has been kept in a field at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park for 15 years, since the Stifford Estate in Stepney where it was on display was demolished.
The council feared metal thieves could steal the 8ft artwork for scrap if it was brought back and displayed in public.
But Wednesday’s decision to put it on the market has set the cat among the pigeons.
“It’s part of the culture of the East End,” said an angry Tory group leader Peter Golds. “It could be erected at the Town Hall if it’s too risky to be displayed in the open.”
Mayor Rahman insisted the cash was needed in the face of the £100m cuts being imposed by the government.
A Town Hall statement said: “We do not have the funds to insure or upkeep the work.”
The council looked at displaying the sculpture in a park, but “insurance and threat of vandalism would be too expensive.”