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Henry Moore sculpture ‘Old Flo’ set for London return


Draped Seated Woman at Yorkshire Sculpture Park in WakefieldImage copyright
Getty Images

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Draped Seated Woman, nicknamed Old Flo in Stepney, has been exhibited in Yorkshire for 20 years

A Henry Moore sculpture which was the focus of a dispute when Tower Hamlets’ former mayor wanted to sell it is to return to the capital after 20 years.

Draped Seated Woman was moved from a council estate in Stepney, east London, on loan to Yorkshire Sculpture Park in 1997.

In 2012 Tower Hamlets Council decided against selling the piece after strong criticism.

The council said it would be positioned in Canary Wharf from October.

The Henry Moore Foundation’s director Godfrey Worsdale said the foundation was “very pleased” the piece was “returning to Tower Hamlets after a careful and rigorous process”.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park said it was “working closely with Tower Hamlets, following [current] Mayor John Biggs’ manifesto pledge to return the sculpture to London”.

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Henry Moore Foundation

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The former London County Council purchased many works for new housing estates and public buildings

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Getty Images

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Draped Seated Woman was moved to Yorkshire Sculpture Park in 1997

Mr Biggs’ predecessor, Lutfur Rahman, was removed from office after he was found guilty of electoral fraud in his 2014 election.

In 2012 Mr Rahman said it was necessary to sell the Moore sculpture – known as Old Flo – which was believed to be worth about £20m, because of “unprecedented” budget cuts.

Moore, a well-known socialist, sold the cast at cost price, £7,400, to the former London County Council on the understanding it would be displayed in a public space and might enrich the lives of those living in a socially deprived area.

The Tate Gallery described it as “part of a post-war revival of civil aspirations and social reform”.

An open letter, written in 2012 by the sculptor’s daughter Mary Moore and others, including film director Danny Boyle and the Tate’s Sir Nicholas Serota, said selling the piece was “against the spirit of Henry Moore’s original sale to London County Council at a favourable price on the understanding that it would be placed in east London”.


Timeline

1961 Stifford Estate, accommodating about 1,700 people, is completed

1962 Draped Seated Woman is purchased by London County Council and later placed on the estate

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Museum of London

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Stifford Estate was awaiting demolition in 1999

1997 The sculpture is loaned to Yorkshire Sculpture Park

1999 Stifford Estate is demolished

2012 Lutfur Rahman announces he wants to sell the sculpture, worth about £20m

2015 The High Court confirms Tower Hamlets Council is the legal owner of the sculpture after a dispute with Bromley Council which began in 2012

2017 Sculpture’s return to London announced.




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