Boris Johnson slams decision to sell Draped Seated Woman

The statue displayed in Yorkshire. Pic: London Borough of Tower Hamlets

Boris Johnson spoke out today against Mayor Lutfur Rahman’s contentious decision to sell a Henry Moore sculpture.

Johnson said, “More could be done to enable Draped Seated Woman to remain in East London.”

ELL discussed the sale with Edward Matby of the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts. He disagreed with the decision on principle, despite Rahman’s claim it is necessary to protect the borough from government cuts.

Matby described the sale as “grotesque”, saying, “[Rahman] is making this sale in an effort to look good, but you can’t sell off one public good against another.”

Prior to last night’s council meeting, the Museum of London Docklands had offered to insure and display the sculpture, nicknamed Old Flo, in order to keep it in the borough.

A spokesman for the museum expressed their “extreme disappointment” at the sale, but was unable to comment on whether the institution would bid for the artwork at a proposed Christies auction.

Queen Mary, University of London, had also investigated the possibility of housing the statue, noting its “special local significance”. However, discussions have stopped in light of Mayor Rahman’s decision to sell.

When ELL spoke to Tower Hamlets Labour Councillor Joshua Peck last night, he described the sale as symptomatic of the “gross financial mismanagement” of the council.

Matby believes the sale will do little to relieve the burden of cuts. “Mayor Rahman can do any clever amount of wheeler-dealing on the quiet to make things easier. He can choose where to make cuts. But ultimately the only thing that’s going to stop what the Tories are doing is to defy them.”

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