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Henry Moore

Henry Moore Foundation vetoes plan to build replica of The Arch

An Italian-American collector had offered $1 million for the project

London

The Henry Moore Foundation will veto a proposal to make a replica of The Arch, to replace the sculpture which had to be removed from Kensington Gardens almost a decade ago. Following a report in The Art Newspaper (March 2005, p. 30) which was followed up in The Guardian, the Italian-American collector Carlo Bilotti offered to pay for a copy, in exchange for the weather-damaged original. This replacement would have cost him over $1 million.

After a meeting with Royal Parks, Mr Bilotti made a formal offer in a letter dated 3 April. He wrote: “I would be willing to transport the damaged travertine sculpture to Pietrasanta, where Moore worked during his lifetime, and have The Arch restored. The costs of transportation and restoration are estimated to be $550,000.”

Mr Bilotti then added: “I would ask the marble studio to build a replica in a hard, compact marble that could withstand any kind of weather. The replica would have a steel structure and would be built in such a way to assure safety in a public place. I would donate the replica to the Royal Parks. The cost of carving the replica is estimated to be $500,000. The restored travertine [original] will be donated to a municipality in Italy or Florida where the weather conditions would be more suitable for the travertine.”

Following Bilotti’s offer, another unnamed individual came up with a second proposal to Royal Parks. Consideration of both schemes was temporarily put on hold during the UK election campaign.

Restoration

The Henry Moore Foundation has now announced its opposition to create a replica of Moore’s sculpture. In a letter to The Art Newspaper (see p.33), director Tim Llewellyn calls for the original work to be restored. “The Foundation believes that the artist’s intention should be respected by restoring The Arch, treating it to protect it from the weather, but not by building a structure over it as has been suggested, and by replacing it on the site selected by its maker. We believe that if the Royal Parks were to publicly adopt this policy, moral, technical and financial support would be forthcoming from the public as well as other interested parties including ourselves.”

Although Mr Llewellyn welcomes Mr Bilotti’s interest, he makes two comments on his proposal. First, The Arch was a gift to the nation. “We should expect them [the Royal Parks] to regard it as no less unacceptable than we do for the work to be sold or given away.”

Second, a replica would require approval from the Foundation which holds the copyright to the artist’s work. “This would not be granted for artistic and legal reasons. Moore intended the sculpture to be carved from travertine and the foundation would not depart from his known wishes. Moreover, Moore’s will precludes the making of copies of his sculpture after his death and the foundation’s trustees would under all circumstances respect this.”

Mr Llewellyn is clearly getting impatient at the long delay in taking action since The Arch was dismantled in 1996. His letter concludes: “We hope that the Royal Parks will respond to the concerns that have been expressed about this matter in your pages by immediately commissioning the restoration of The Arch and returning it to the banks of the Serpentine.”

Appeared in The Art Newspaper Archive, 159 June 2005