Sell­ing of art­work ‘short-sighted’

Evening Telegraph (First Edition) - - Front Page -

AN An­gus coun­cil­lor has backed down from a con­tro­ver­sial sug­ges­tion that the author­ity should con­sider flog­ging off its mul­ti­mil­lion-pound cul­tural gems.

Moni­fi­eth and Sid­law Lib Dem Ben Lawrie has now said the sale of Ar­broath’s valu­able Pi­eter Brueghel the Younger paint­ings would be “short­sighted”, al­though he sug­gested they could still be rented out.

The ap­par­ent U-turn fol­lows months of de­bate on the sub­ject which flared again when the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment was urged to in­tro­duce a mora­to­rium on the sale of coun­cil-owned cul­tural as­sets.

Mr Lawrie said: “I agree that the out­right sale of coun­cil-owned art work would be short-sighted.

“There are op­tions such as rent­ing them out, so that they can be put on dis­play for the pub­lic while the coun­cil raises some in­come.”

An­gus Coun­cil owns two paint­ings by Pi­eter Brueghel the Younger, worth in ex­cess of £2 mil­lion each, which are on dis­play at Ar­broath Li­brary.

Five other works, worth a to­tal of £670,000, are not on dis­play.

Mr Lawrie pre­vi­ously called for a de­bate on their sale, prompt­ing Ar­broath In­de­pen­dent coun­cil­lor David Fair­weather to say he would “stran­gle” any­one who sug­gested off-load­ing the “fam­ily trea­sures”.

Mr Fair­weather has now called for a Scot­land-wide mora­to­rium, pro­hibit­ing the sale of cul­tural as­sets with­out min­is­te­rial ap­proval.

He said: “Quite rightly, the sug­ges­tion that these mag­nif­i­cent paint­ings could be sold was met with an im­me­di­ate and sus­tained back­lash.

“Coun­cils are strug­gling to de­liver ser­vices and may be­gin to look at the sale of im­por­tant cul­tural as­sets in order to make ends meet.

“How­ever, the pro­ceeds of any sale would only be a tem­po­rary fix at best, and would soon see a lo­cal author­ity back to square one — mi­nus the cul­tural as­sets they started with.”

Mu­se­ums and Gal­leries Scot­land chief ex­ec­u­tive Joanne Orr said: “A fi­nan­cially mo­ti­vated sale of any item from the coun­cil’s mu­seum col­lec­tions would be in breach of the Mu­seum As­so­ci­a­tion’s Code of Ethics, putting the ser­vice at risk of be­ing re­moved from the UK-wide mu­se­ums ac­cred­i­ta­tion scheme.”

Ben Lawrie with one of the paint­ings.

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