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Croydon council ceramics to be auctioned in Hong Kong

Controversial sale estimated to bring in £9m-£14m, but could lose museum its accreditation

The top lot of the sale of Croydon's ceramics at Christie's, Hong Kong is this Xuande period (1426-35) blue-and-white moonflask, estimated at £1.8m-£2.5m

Christie’s is due to sell highlights of Croydon Council’s collection of Chinese ceramics, which are estimated to fetch £9m-£14m. The auction will be held in Hong Kong on 27 November.

The collection was acquired by the south London council from the local businessman Raymond Riesco in 1964. Its decision to deaccession the finest ceramics from the Museum of Croydon has proved controversial.

Most of the collection of 230 Chinese pieces will remain on view in Croydon’s Clocktower building, with the 24 most valuable items being sold at Christie’s. The most important is a Xuande period (1426-35) blue-and-white moonflask, estimated at £1.8m-£2.5m. Other major pieces are a Xuande “fruiting spray” dish (est £900,000-£1.5m) and a Chenghua (1465-87) “boys” bowl (est £600,000-£1m). The total estimate for the sale is £9m-£14m. Highlights will be on view at Christie’s in London, 1-5 November.

Croydon Council has promised to spend the proceeds on “cultural infrastucture”, mostly on the restoration of the Fairfield Halls, a theatre and music venue.

On 17 September, a Museums Association committee determined that the Museum of Croydon has broken its code of ethics. Its director, Mark Taylor, says there will be a “very strong” case for expelling Croydon from the organisation, following a disciplinary hearing and the sale.

The Museum of Croydon may well also lose its accreditation status, making it more difficult to get assistance from national funding bodies. Arts Council England, which administers museum accreditation, is expected to formally consider the issue soon after the 27 November sale.

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27 Sep 13
16:5 CET


Make £10m, lose 27 prized pieces and the ability to be given £10m from other national funding bodies. Unbelievable short-sightedness because losing accreditation also means it will become more difficult to take on loans from other institutions. I can very easily see that this is the work of politicians and not professionals in the field. When will politicians learn from past mistakes? Croydon is not the first to try something less than intelligent for short term gains.

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