The ownership dispute over a Henry Moore sculpture dubbed Old Flo looks set to rumble on despite one side claiming victory and making plans to sell it.
Tower Hamlets council ran into strong
opposition from many groups when they decided to sell off the work,
formally known as Draped Seated Woman and valued at up to
£17m, which has been on display at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park
since the estate in London's East End where it was located was
Bromley council in south-east London also
claimed ownership, but now Tower Hamlets are adamant that the
challenge is unsubstantiated and they will sell the work to offset
budget cuts. They are working with Christie's to set up the
However, Bromley are just as determined to
have the final say and will continue efforts to block any sale,
saying the statue should be kept on public display, as Moore
London County Council (LCC) bought the
statue in 1962 and sited it on the Stifford estate in Stepney - a
location now in Tower Hamlets. When the estate was knocked down in
the 1990s, the sculpture was sent to Yorkshire.
Transfer of Property
Tower Hamlets say their ownership derives
from the transfer of powers from the LCC but Bromley - supported by
the Museum of London and the Art Fund - say that after the LCC, the
Greater London Council (GLC) and then the London Residuary Body
were dissolved, the rights actually passed to them under The London
Residuary Body (Transfer of Property etc) Order 1990.
Although the land and buildings comprising
the Stifford Estate were transferred to Tower Hamlets, Bromley say
that the sculpture remained the property of the GLC until its
dissolution in 1985 and then became vested in the London Residuary
It is unclear from the 1990 Order why
Bromley was selected as the default local authority in which
London-wide property and rights were vested, and Bromley council
could not shed light on this when asked by ATG, but, for whatever
reason, under the Order Bromley were chosen to safeguard property
from all over London.
A Bromley council spokesperson said: "Our
position is a matter of public record and it has not changed - we
continue in the assertion that the sculpture was vested in Bromley
on the dissolution of the GLC for the benefit of all of London.
This is a complex matter and we are taking legal advice while
continuing our investigations."
A Tower Hamlets council spokesperson said: "The council still
aims to sell the sculpture at the earliest opportunity and will
shortly agree a timescale for this with its auctioneers. Following
the initial approach from Bromley council regarding ownership there
has been no substantiation of the claim of ownership and as a
result there is no change in the council's position on the