Croydon Council faces expulsion from Museums Association over Riesco sale
Croydon Council faces expulsion from the museums industry's representative body after being summoned to a disciplinary hearing over the sale of the Riesco collection's prize artworks.
The Museums Association (MA), the sector's largest membership organisation, is to haul the council before a panel of directors to explain its decision to sell the 24 most valuable pieces from the prestigious collection of Chinese dynasty ceramics.
The summons follows a meeting of the association's ethics committee, which ruled the council had breached the organisations code of ethics "in a significant number of areas" by proceeding with the sale despite warmings from across the industry.
Council representatives will face a grilling from three MA board members in the next few weeks and face the possibility of expulsion if the board agrees the sale, to be held in Hong Kong on November 27, is unethical.
Mark Taylor, director of the MA, said: ""t seems to me that the case against Croydon is very strong but they will be given a chance to account for themselves at the hearing before the MA makes a decision.
"If the panel then decide that the disposal contravenes the code of ethics, they have the power to recommend expulsion from the MA."
A porcelain cake box from the Wanli period (left, 1573 -1619) and a saucer dish from the Jiajing period (1522- 66) will both go under the hammer
In the past 25 years, two other councils - Bury Metropolitan Borough Council and Derbyshire County Council - have been expelled from association for breaching its ethical code.
The code states the financially motivated sale of items should only be pursued in "exceptional circumstances" and must meet specific criteria.
It stipulates a sale should significantly improve the public benefit derived from a collection, should not be to generate short-term revenue and should only proceed as a last resort when all other revenue streams have been explored.
A porcelain pilgrim bottle from the Xuande period (1426-35)and a porcelain vase from the Kangxi period (1662-1722)
Nick Merriman, convener of the MA's ethics committee, said: "We reviewed the actions of Croydon Council against the guidance in the MA's code of ethics on financially motivated disposal, and we found that they had not met the requirements of the code of ethics in a significant number of areas, despite considerable efforts by the MA to engage with them on these issues.
"The committee therefore reported to the MA's director that Croydon Council is in breach of the code of ethics, and recommended that he consider disciplinary action against the council."
Arts Council England is also reassessing Croydon Council's accredited museums status and eligibility for funding in light of the sale, which is expected to fetch between £9m and £14.2m at auction.
Croydon Council plans to spend most of the money on refurbishing Fairfield Halls.
A council spokesman said: “We have not received official notification from the Museums Association and are very disappointed they have chosen to announce this through the media.
"As we have said all along, we are acting in exceptional circumstances.
"The proceeds from this sale will provide much-needed investment in Croydon's culture at a time of significant funding reductions for local authorities."
Do you agree with the sale? Click here to see the pieces being sold and their valuations, then post a comment below.
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