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Henry Moore's 'Old Flo' belongs to east London council, High Court rules

New mayor of Tower Hamlets scraps disgraced predecessor's decision to sell public sculpture

The legal owner of Henry Moore's sculpture Draped Seated Woman (1957-58) is Tower Hamlets Council, the High Court in London ruled yesterday, 8 July, ending a long-running legal battle with Bromley Council over the work.

The former mayor of the east London borough, Lutfur Rahman consigned the work to auction in February 2013. But the sale was postponed after the Art Fund charity and the Museum of London discovered evidence that suggested ownership of the sculpture lay with Bromley Council in south London. Rahman was 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.” He says that the work of public art “belongs to the people of east London and should be available locally for public enjoyment”.

The sculpture, known as "Old Flo", was bought by London County Council for £6,000 in 1962, and sited at the working class Stifford Estate in east London until 1997, when Yorkshire Sculpture Park borrowed the piece. It remains on public display at the park in the north of England.