Wednesday 27 November 2013

Riesco collection Sales On, Croydon Out of Museums Association, Reportedly Cannot Account for 89 Objects

The Riesco Collection of antique Chinese ceramics was a gift to Croydon from local businessman Raymond Riesco half a century ago, on condition that the collection he had spent his lifetime curating should not be broken up, nor should it leave this country. It seems that the sale of parts of the collection  is going ahead as planned: Christie's Announces the sale of 24 Works from the R.F.A. Riesco Collection of Important Chinese Ceramics. Meanwhile, it was announced that Croydon Council has already resigned from the Museums Association after the MA's ethics committee ruled that the auction was in breach of the association's code of ethics.

More scandalously, according to Geraldine Kendall, ('89 objects missing from Riesco collection', Museums Association 16.10.2013) a FOI request reportedly uncovered gaps in Croydon Council's records. It seems that the Museums Journal learnt several weeks ago that 89 Riesco Collection objects are unaccounted for. Of the 650 items originally acquired, now only 230 pieces remain in the council’s ownership (180 pieces were sold in 1970, 112 were sold in 1984 and 39 were stolen at an unspecified date, which leaves another 89 items apparently missing with no record as to their whereabouts). Is this true? What on earth is going on in Croydon?

UPDATE 27th Nov 2013:
Results of the sale:
Hong Kong, 27 November 2013, Sale 3266:  24 lots offered, 17 lots sold  ("71% sold by lot, 74% sold by value")  The council’s asset-stripping exercise failed to sell all of the items. Seven of them failed to achieve the reserve price placed on them by the auction house. When this happens an auction house sometimes negotiatiates private deals with interested under-bidders.
Total dosh made:  US$13,276,224 (that's £8,236,176 and €9,834,240). This however is below the estimate.

Chi Fan Tsang, Specialist Head of Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art Department, said, “We were honoured to have been instructed to offer The R.F.A.  Riesco Collection this season, formed with such passionate connoisseurship, and not seen on the market for many decades.   In particular, we were pleased with the results of the top lot of the sale - the rare Xuande blue and white double-gourd moonflask, Ming dynasty, Xuande mark and period (1426-1435), which realized HK$28.1 million/US$3.6 million, and for the two rare Jun bowls. 

UPDATE UPDATE 28th Nov 2013:

'Council’s cultural vandalism leaves borough short-changed', Inside Croydon November 27, 2013
 Tony Newman, the leader of the Labour group on Croydon Council, was available to air his views of the Riesco auction. “Not only has this incompetent Tory council sold off the treasured family crockery, but it has let it go at a bargain basement price,” Newman said.  “[...] Croydon Tories’ act of cultural vandalism is now complete.”
'Council’s botched attempt to airbrush Riesco from web history', Inside Croydon, November 22, 2013
Tory-run Croydon Council has been trying to airbrush history on their own website, to eradicate embarrassing references to the Riesco Collection. And as you might expect of Croydon Council, they can’t even do that properly.[...]  Until very recently, the Croydon Council web page explained – accurately – how millionaire Riesco’s world-famous collection of Chinese porcelain had come to be given to the corporation. The council’s website specifically referred to Riesco making a “gift” of his collection, [...] "on the condition that they were not split up" Now you see it…[...]  But as if by magic, just recently, the council’s Heathfield web page has undergone a change [...]  with the embarrassing truth about the Riesco Collection (almost) all removed ...

1 comment:

George Gissing said...

Does this fill in some of the blanks?

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