Thursday, 11 June 2020

British Airways forced to sell off art work to raise cash - but only 10 out of collection of more than 1600 pieces.

Frank Tjepkema © the artist
The UK's British Airways has been forced to sell off part of its massive multi-million-pound artwork collection to help raise cash as it battles to survive through and beyond the current coronavirus COVID-19 crisis.

Some big names from the art world feature among the British Airways collection, including Peter Doig, Bridget Riley,  Tracey Emin, Anish Kapoor and Damien Hirst. It's not known exactly how much the entire collection is work,  but individually, some pieces have price tags of over £1 million.

To many, both inside and outside the airline, part of the massive IAG, it is morally reprehensible to be cutting thousands of jobs, whilst it sits on a veritable treasure trove of valuable artwork.  BA's current proposal is to make 12,000 staff redundant including more than 1,000 pilots. 

According to media reports in the UK, the world-famous auction house Sotheby's has been called in to handle the safe of '10 or so'  pieces from the collection. Some of the collection is in the airlines premier lounges at various airports, other pieces, including a number os special commissions, are at the firms London HQ, whilst others are said to be at the homes and offices of some of the senior IAG management team, including Willy Walsh.

Artwise, a  London based curatorial organisation established in 1996 had helped the airline amass a collection of over 1500 items during a 17-year stint.  In a statement to the BBC, founders Susie Allen and Laura Culpan said:  "Generally we purchased and commissioned works by artists early in their careers, so during this time many of the works have grown in value - although this was never the intention behind the collection."

"We are of course very sad to see some of the key treasures from the BA art collection being put up for auction - a collection which, in its day, was so admired and was the first of its kind within the airline industry. However, we do understand that these are unprecedented times,".
Andy Goldsworthy © the artist

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