Video: Francis Bacon’s painting could be sold from New Walk Museum to fund council housing

By Ben Sanderson, Luke Wilson, Elliot Worthing and Amber Mitchell-Hanna

Francis Bacon’s painting Lying Figure No 1 should be sold from the New Walk Museum, according to Leicester Liberal Democrat councillor Nigel Porter.

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“Lying Figure No 1” by Francis Bacon

Cllr Porter believes the painting, worth about £20 million, would create funds which could be better spent on social housing.

“The plan was to build new council housing to the highest environmental standards,” he said.

He said the council’s head of housing, Cllr Elly Cutkelvin, opposes this idea, saying people in Leicester might not be able to operate the houses at the highest environmental standards.

Cllr Cutkelvin is the daughter of Leicester city mayor Sir Peter Soulsby, who has rejected the idea of selling the painting.

Cllr Porter said: “He is dismissing it as paying out of the council budget is not allowed, but selling assets is. If the painting is worth a few million pounds, it can fund council housing, which Leicester is crying out for.

“People desperately need modern council housing. You need to weigh things up and decide what the priorities are.

“Modern art worth millions would be at the bottom for most.”

Andrew Cilipsham, a museum assistant for the New Walk Museum, disagreed: “We cannot sell the collection. Our job is to look after it.

“We have got rid of things in the past and then realised how valuable it was.”

He said the work was “not necessarily financially important but socially important”, adding: “Art isn’t about money. It’s about art.

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“There are other things in the museum worth much, much more than [Lying Figure No 1], but where do we stop?”

Cllr Porter said there was the potential to build 100 social houses with the money raised, if Bacon’s painting is sold.

David, a visitor to the museum, said: “There are going to be other ways you can raise money, instead of selling off paint that everyone should be able to see.”

Casey Freely, a De Montfort University student, said: “100 social houses sounds like a good cause. It would benefit the community.”

The Bacon dilemma has raised significant questions over whether the art or housing is worth more.

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New Walk Museum outside

On one side people are arguing that places to live are worth far more than art people look at for a few minutes, but others say it would be sad to sell creativity for the sake of another tower block.

We would love to hear your opinions in the comments section below. Tell us what you think!

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