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Expensive Art & Fakes

henry moore

This sculpture by Henry Moore was due to be sold by Hackney Council to fund council services that it was struggling to deliver. It later turned out that another London council claimed ownership of it and the sale got blocked. The sculpture was removed from this site some years earlier and now sits in the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. But aside from the legal ranglings, the concept of selling a work of art that was donated to the country many years ago provoked outrage among many that we were selling off the nation's assets to fund day-to-day spending. Henry Moore sold this sculpture to the Council at cost price on the condition that it would always be displayed within a housing estate for the enjoyment of the public.

The sculpture has been valued at £20m and could make a massive positive impact on whichever council happens to get the money from the sale. This money could generate £1m a year in investment returns as an alternative to spending it all now. This figure is probably way beyond what Henry Moore himself ever imagined it would ever be worth.

With the new technology of 3D printing a perfect, indistinguishable replica could be produced for a relatively low cost. Does it matter that it is a Henry Moore, or that it is simply a beautiful work of art?

In my opinion, the Council should sell the work on the condition that a perfect replica is printed and put on permanent display in the same place. Henry Moore's bequest continues, the local community gets the priviledge of such a beautiful work of art in their midst, the Council gets the money, and the original gets looked after somewhere else (there would probably be a fundraising campaign to keep it at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park).

It is now possible to make perfect diamonds in a laboratory, yet we still think that diamonds dug out of the ground are somehow superior, when, in actual fact, they are not. What is the point in buying an orginal that can so easily be replicated? As a fan of Henry Moore I'd quite like one at the bottom of my garden and a perfect 3D replica would even be preferable in case it got damaged or stolen. There would be a copyright fee on every replica sold but the beauty of his works could be appreciated by many more people if such a business got off the ground.

That something is a great work of art that can be appreciated for its own sake matters more than the name of the artist who created it.