The new Mayor of Tower Hamlets has scrapped his disgraced predecessor’s decision to sell Henry Moore’s ‘Old Flo’. The public sculpture’s real title being Draped Seated Woman (1957-58) which is in fact the property of Tower Hamlets Council, the High Court in London ruled on 8 July, ending a long-running legal battle with Bromley Council over the work.
The sculpture, known as “Old Flo”, was bought by London County Council for a mere £6,000 in 1962, and sited at the working class Stifford Estate in east London until 1997, after which the work was loaned to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, where It remains on public display at the park in the north of England.
Lutfur Rahman, The former mayor of the east London borough had consigned the work to auction in February 2013. But after evidence that suggested ownership of the sculpture lay with Bromley Council in south London, the sale was postponed due to the Art Fund charity and the Museum of London’s discovery. Rahman was subsequently removed from office in April after being found guilty of wrongdoing by the Election Commissioner.
The newly elected Labour mayor, John Biggs, says: “I want to reiterate my intention to reverse the previous mayor’s decision to sell Henry Moore’s sculpture, Draped Seated Woman.” The new Mayor of Tower Hamlets continues, stating that the work of public art “belongs to the people of east London and should be available locally for public enjoyment”.
The seated female figure was created in 1957 by Moore to reflect the artist’s wartime experiences of the blitz in London. At least six casts were made by 1961 and were placed in Cologne, Brussels, Yale University in the US, Melbourne and Jerusalem.