New doubt was cast over the fate of the borough’s famous Henry Moore Sculpture, Old Flo, last week after the Tower Hamlets Mayor failed to clarify the situation regarding her sale. The sculpture was earmarked by the Mayor for sale last year against widespread opposition from residents and arts patrons such as Olympics Supremo Danny Boyle. Serious concerns were also raised about the ownership of Old Flo that have not yet been resolved.
When questioned at Council about the fate of the artwork the Mayor’s cabinet member for culture, Cllr Rania Khan, said that the council had received no legal challenges and that the sale was going ahead as announced last year. Labour councillors have since highlighted that the Cabinet papers regarding the sale state that the sculpture would be put for sale in February 2013, raising concerns that Cllr Khan had misled the Council.
The papers from the October 2012 Cabinet meeting stated:
“The sculpture be offered for international sale at auction by Christie’s in February 2013, with a reserve price to be agreed by the Mayor in consultation with Christie’s.”
Cllr Khan also attacked the many residents who had signed the petition against the sale of Old Flo by saying that “the public outcry has only come from the cultural elite.” She also singled out local star Danny Boyle for criticism saying “If Danny Boyle likes it so much, he should buy it'.
Labour’s spokesperson for Heritage and Culture, Cllr Denise Jones, said:
“Cllr Khan’s answer leaves a lot to be desired, we know that as a result of the Mayor’s reckless approach serious concerns have been raised about the ownership of Old Flo. We have campaigned with residents to return the historic sculpture to Tower Hamlets and will continue to do so, but the Mayor must be clear with the public about what is happening.”