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Riesco collection sale misses Croydon Council's minimum target

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THE controversial sale of a Chinese ceramics collection has fallen short of the minimum figure anticipated by the council.

A total of 24 items from the Riesco collection went up for auction in Hong Kong on Wednesday but only 17 were sold, bringing in a total of £8.2 million.

Before the auction the council's was putting a figure on the sale of between £9 million and £14 million.

What is still not clear is how much commission will be charged by auctioneers Christie's and by how much the final figure will therefore be reduced.

But Councillor Tim Pollard, the cabinet member with responsibility for culture, remained relatively upbeat about the success of the sale.

He said: "We have come close to the £9 million and we still don't know what the final figure will be."

It was expected, he said, the total would increase following negotiations with potential buyers whose original offers fell below the reserve price.

Cllr Pollard said: "We have always tried to avoid laying down definite figures because you can never tell what the value of the works is going to be.

"The intrinsic value of the items is low, it is what people are prepared to pay for the scarcity value which counts."

Cllr Pollard said the proceeds would play a considerable part in reducing the borrowing required for the £33 million refurbishment of the Fairfield Halls.

He said it had been his hope to reduce the burden of borrowing on council taxpayers by £1 million a year and the lowest estimate of £9 million "should achieve that."

Cllr Pollard added: "We were in a position of having to borrow £33 million to refurbish Fairfield and anything we can do to bring that figure down has got to be positive.

"We are now in a position where we can do the most important things with real confidence."

He added: "Funding the refurbishment was never going to be easy but our reading of the situation is that the people of Croydon value Fairfield and want us to keep it."

Councillor Timothy Godfrey, the Labour shadow cabinet member for culture, said: "The council was talking about using the proceeds to fund a large part of Fairfield refurbishment, now it is not going to even be able to fund a third of it."

Charlotte Davies, who led an abandoned residents' campaign for a judicial review of the decision to see the collection, said: "This is a debacle. What a mess."

She said the sale price had reinforced her belief that the council had compromised itself morally by agreeing to the sale in the first place.

Riesco collection sale misses Croydon Council's minimum target


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