Supplementary memorandum submitted by
I am writing to follow up a matter you raised
during the Select Committee hearing on Tuesday 23 May. You referred
to some stone sculptures, which had once been located in a church
in the Manchester area that were consigned to Sotheby's, and I
promised that I would get back to you with more details on the
specific case. Having reviewed our files, I think you were referring
to 12 sandstone figures of saints which were once located in Gorton
Friary, Manchester. The Figures were included in a catalogue of
Garden Statuary for a sale at Sotheby's in Billingshurst on 28
As I understand it, the Figures had been purchased
in 1993 by a local businessman from the then owners of Gorton
Friary. The previous owners were a firm of property developers
seeking to convert the building into housing units. We are informed
that at that time the Friary was in a considerable state of disrepair.
It is also our understanding that whilst the Friary itself was
listed as a grade 2 building and afforded certain protection under
the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990,
the contents of the Friary, including the Figures, were not specifically
Following the publication of the catalogue for
the Sale, Sotheby's was approached by the Planning Department
of Manchester City Council, who advised us that they regarded
the Figures as part of the fixtures and fittings of the Friary
and that, as a consequence, the removal of the Figures without
their prior consent was in breach of the Act. In response to these
concerns, Sotheby's agreed to withdraw the Figures from sale.
The consignor/vendor subsequently agreed to a private sale of
the Figures to the Council.
As I said to the Committee on Tuesday, we evaluate
each claim in good faith, on a case by case basis, as the facts
and circumstances of each inquiry may vary dramatically.
I hope this is helpful, but please do not hesitate
to contact me should you have any further queries relating to
I do hope that we can build on the Committee's
useful work in this area and look forward to being of assistance
in the future.