Poor Borough Scores Moore

Tower Hamlets, Borough of Bromley, East End London - In light of discussions with the Art Fund, the ownership of Henry Moore’s Draped Seated Woman is now in dispute.

Last October, Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman announced his decision to sell the sculpture after 'unprecedented' budget cuts. {see AK Files: 9 November 2012}.

Art collectors of ArtKabinett social network were dismayed to learn of this important and historic artwork leaving the public sphere.

Despite recent requests, the Tower Hamlets mayor has failed to provide proof of Council ownership.

Lawyers acting for the greater London Borough of Bromley, the Art Fund, and others now say that new research shows Tower Hamlets Council’s claim over ownership is incorrect, and the sale of Old Flo cannot go ahead.

Bromley Borough officials claim the sculpture actually belongs to them.

New research into the details of the transfer of ownership, reveal that the London County Council (LCC) actually acquired the work in 1962 so that the public could benefit from its display on a public housing estate in Stifford.

Old Flo was a symbol of hope and regeneration after the devastation of bombings in the area caused by WWII.

When the LCC was abolished in 1963 and replaced by the Greater London Council (GLC), Stifford was incorporated into the newly created Tower Hamlets Council.

Although the land and buildings comprising the Stifford Estate were transferred to Tower Hamlets Council, the sculpture was not listed in the Order, and so remained the property of the GLC until its dissolution in 1985.

In 1985 all assets of the GLC were vested in the London Residuary Body, including Old Flo.

When the London Residuary Body was wound up in 1996, all of its remaining assets were transferred to the London Borough of Bromley, which now technically owns the sculpture.

Bromley Council has pledged not to sell the work but to display it for the benefit of the public, as Moore intended.

The Council will be meeting with the Art Fund, Museum of London, the Tate Museum, and Henry Moore Foundation in early 2013 to discuss plans for further public display.

Moore, a well-known socialist, sold the sculpture at below market value on the understanding that it would be shown in a public space and might enrich the lives of those living in a socially deprived area.

It was bought by the LCC as part of a wider regeneration program to improve the lives and living standards of Londoners after the devastation caused by WWII.

Tower Hamlets had planned to sell the sculpture at auction in February 2013, despite opposition from within its own Council, from residents across the borough, arts organizations including the Museum of London, Tate, and the Henry Moore Foundation.

Almost 3,000 people signed a petition to Save Old Flo, and to keep the sculpture in the economically depressed Tower Hamlets.