This picture, the Birth of Eve by Solomon J Solomon featured here on a Christie’s poster, is one of the Borough’s treasures and in many ways it is a shame we are selling it. It goes under the hammer today at 2.30pm at Christie’s.
It would be nice to think that we had a public building that could safely display it but we simply don’t. It is a huge picture; it is over 3 metres high and almost 1.5 metres wide. Given that you would probably want to hang it out of reach you need a 8-9 metre high room (so it doesn’t look cramped). It would need to be climate controlled and, realistically, guarded 24 hours a day. We simply don’t have a room like that in the Borough and if we did we would be looking at a bill of some £10Ks per annnum to keep the picture safe whilst on display.
I know that local MP Stephen Pound has called this decision “philistine”, this is one of his favourite words. Words are cheap though and he has not said where it could be displayed nor told us whether he wants us to sack some front line workers or put up council tax to pay the running costs of displaying this picture.
We found Eve in terrible peril when we came to power (leant against a radiator behind the scenes at Hanwell library – just another example of the neglect our administration inherited). I am sure the picture is better off in the hands of someone or some organisation that can look after it properly. The sale proceeds will be ring-fenced for cultural projects across the borough. I will publish an update when I hear the sale price.
I would have been interested to see Eve go under the hammer this afternoon but I am looking after a coughing, feverish child instead. I think she is on the mend but a trip on the Tube isn’t really on.
Update: Eve was sold for £600,000 just after 3pm today. Although the price did not go stratospheric it was pretty respectable. Bonhams valued it at £300-500K in 2007 before the credit crunch. I watched it online – bit noisy but it was easy to log in and see it all happen.