We reported on Tuesday that cast offs from the collection of The Right Honourable Baroness Thatcher were to be offered by Christies after being rejected as a potential gift by the V&A. This information was based on a story in the Daily Telegraph. Now the Victoria and Albert Museum said it was “stupefied'” by the reports that they had turned down the opportunity to acquire some items from Baroness Thatcher’s wardrobe. The museum said it was quoted as saying it only collected items of “outstanding aesthetic or technical quality”, however Nicholas Coleridge, chairman of the V&A, said no offer had ever been made.
Coleridge, who started his role as chairman on Tuesday this week, said there was “stupefied surprise” at the V&A about the Daily Telegraph story. He told BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme there had been “no letter, no meeting, no judgement… no overture of any kind… and no turning down of her clothes at all”. He said that neither he, nor the previous chairman, nor the museum’s trustees knew anything about it. Coleridge said that while there had been “some sort of informal conversation” in 2011 or 2012, there had been no follow-through. He added Carol Thatcher, Lady Thatcher’s daughter, had called him to apologise about the story, confirming that the family had never offered anything to the museum.
London Mayor Boris Johnson and the Culture Secretary John Whittingdale, rallied in support of preserving Lady Thatcher’s collection for the nation. Speaking to Radio 4 on Thursday, Coleridge agreed. He said “it could be well worth considering” acquiring pieces and the museum’s team were “keen” to see what they could get “if there really are some available”.
In the year that ‘The Iron Lady’ would have celebrated her 90th birthday, approximately 350 personal lots will be offered across two landmark sales: a flagship auction presenting 150 lots will take place in London at Christie’s headquarters on Tuesday 15 December, and an online only sale comprising 200 lots will open for bids on Thursday 3 December and run for two weeks until 16 December. These sales are taking place 25 years after Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013) left Office, at the end of her 11 year high profile tenure as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1979-1990).