Croydon Borough Council’s Riesco Collection: selling cultural heritage to offset austerity

Posted: 18/12/2013 in Miscellaneous, News & Analysis
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Ignoring its legal advice and contradicting its own policy, Croydon Borough Council auctioned off the Riesco Collection of Chinese antiquities in order to raise the money to refurbish the Fairfield Halls arts centre. They’d already sold off two lots of the originally-650-piece collection (180 in 1970 and 112 in 1984), while 39 had been stolen and another 89 couldn’t be accounted for. However, having suffered 31% cuts to their budget and awaiting another 10%, they felt they had no choice.

The unsurprisingly incompetent ‘cultural vandal[s]’ and ‘asset-strip[pers]’ estimated that they would raise £13m+, but managed to raise £8.1m. The Museums Association was forced to expel Croydon Council for its unethical behaviour, which has left the Museum of Croydon professionally isolated and financially vulnerable.


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