The National Gallery initially supplied us with a considerable volume of papers, but volunteered that it hoped to provide additional information after checking with third parties. Three weeks later, further material was disclosed, including its application to the Heritage Lottery Fund and correspondence with National Gallery of Scotland director general Sir Timothy Clifford on his proposal for a joint purchase with the London gallery (an idea which never proceeded).
Still excluded from the material was correspondence we had requested relating to the final price of £22 million ($42 million), which was determined by the Duke of Northumberland’s tax situation. We were told an approach had been made to Sotheby’s (the Duke’s agent).
The National Gallery added its own comments: “There is a public interest in maintaining accountability and transparency in expenditure of public money, but in our view the public interest would not be served by revealing information of potential usefulness to competitors. This would give the competitive edge to rival bidders such as private collectors and overseas bodies not subject to FOI and this, in turn, would be contrary to the public interest.”
Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'The National Gallery: Raphael’s Madonna of the pinks'