British Airways ‘in talks to sell the art in its lounges’

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According to a report in the Evening Standard yesterday, British Airways has come up with a new way to raise funds – selling off the best of the artwork in its lounges.

The newspaper reports that Sothebys has been employed to value the works, with a view to adding some to an upcoming sale as quickly as possible.  The timing isn’t great, however, with in-person auctions currently suspended and online sales not proving to be hugely successful.

The works are worth more than you think.  The artworks, which will also include some currently hanging on the walls of the Waterside head office, include pieces by Bridget Riley, Damien Hurst and Peter Doig.  At least one is worth over £1 million.

Whilst not mentioned in the article, the BA art collection is known to also include works by Patrick Heron, David Nash, Chris Ofili, Anish Kapoor, Tracey Emin, Gary Hume and Donald Judd.

In one of the more bizarre British Airways quotes I’ve seen recently, a source is quoted by the Standard as saying:

“We are in a very dark place.”

Here are a few of the pieces which may be coming under the hammer.  Bridget Riley:

British Airways to sell its art collection

Tracey Emin:

British Airways to sell its art collection

Gary Hume:

British Airways to sell its art collection

PS.  If the worst comes to the worse, BA can always raise a few pounds from these:

British Airways to sell its art collection

As you can see here, these Moooi lamps go for £4,700 each when new ….

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  1. SammyJ says:

    They could pick up a nicer print in Ikea for £29 so I can’t say I blame them.

  2. Hawgaw says:

    Never got the horses….. Won’t be sorry to see them go.

    • They’re playful, which is what I like about them. Don’t take themselves too seriously! In a way, that aligns them more with Virgin than with BA…

    • They can sell the horses to Lloyds Bank to go with their TV ads.

  3. Is Tracey Emin taking the proverbial?

  4. No wonder they’re in a dark place if they spend that kind of money on art, I would be furious if I was a shareholder! I’m sure we had a carpet in the 80s with the same pattern as that stripy one.

    • Of all the pieces shown I like that stripey one the most. 🙂

      • Darren says:

        It’s the juxtaposition between the linear and the vacant space. That’ll be £10k, thanks.

        • 🙂 is that your fee as art connoisseur and consultant?

        • Andrew says:

          They could put a giant screen up cycling through with Willie Walsh, Alex Cruz and other board members each raising a hand, waving with “Welcome” and various other marketing phrases as people enter instead.

        • I have met Bridget and been around her studio. She doesn’t actually paint her own stuff – assistants do that. She just sketches it out on paper and selects the colours.

          • Darren says:

            With a pencil and ruler.

            I do like it though.

          • Alex M says:

            So you are saying it takes more than one person to make that?? LOL

          • I’d guess she pulls in £20m+ per year and has done since the late 1960’s so potentially the joke is on you for not doing it yourself ….

          • Like Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo in their studios. “School of Bridget Riley”. I can’t be doing with anything painted after about 1850 personally, apart from Dali.

          • Darren says:

            I love art, especially local artists.

    • They will have paid peanuts for most of it.

    • Andrew says:

      The Art world would be in a very sorry state if big companies didn’t buy works or sponsor events.

      The stripey one is quite jolly.

      If you want to buy art though, why not buy an artist’s house? The chap who is (or was?) the artist in residence at the Savoy lives round the corner from my parents and has put his house up for sale:-

      My overall view is that you can’t can’t go wrong with a house with turrets, billiard room and boot room for less than the cost of a decent London flat. Nearest station with a direct service to Euston or Kings Cross is a 15 minute drive away.

      • JAmes says:

        Very nice part of the UK. We use to stay near Loch Ard.

        Most of my parents crystal collection came from Stuart Crystal in Crieff.

      • Alastair says:

        Aside from the hideous decor, the problem with that house is that it’s next to Callander. Nice area, ghastly town.

        But yes, major companies do a lot for the arts and this move feels a bit tokenistic. If BA was *that* keen on cost-cutting, half the ‘management’would go and the crew would be in tracksuits like US Airways circa 2008.

      • Oh goody, I always wanted my own Baronial Castle, I wonder if I can become a Baron if I by it?

  5. mr_jetlag says:

    They WILL be in a very dark place if they sell the lamps!


  6. Sunguy says:

    I’m not an art lover – at all……BUT – if BA help out UK artists and help promote their work, then I’m all for it in many ways…..especially if it gives UK artists a world forum to compete on….

    These pieces you show here – I couldn’t give a flying faff about – if it makes them a few pennies to sell them, then why not – and in replacement, they should give these spaces over to displaying up and coming British artists…..either on-loan for a month at a time or buying them to help the artists out….

    However, I was a little disappointed to see the removal of some of the BA heritage collection from the displays between the Concorde lounge and the spa in T5 -(its now just dead space) its always nice to have something to look at….especially telling the history of the airline… would be nice to see more of that in spaces too……

  7. Jim Kavanagh says:

    It’s a very good idea – now to empty our national galleries to pay for the COVID costs.

  8. Jonathan says:

    This story is also in the Guardian where they add the comment :

    “However, with some analysts believing that the lucrative business travel market may never return to pre-crisis levels, lounges are likely to have more austere decor in future.”

    • Oh lord, does that also mean they’ll be serving prosecco in the Concorde lounge?! (On my one and only visit last year I overheard the barman saying sniffily to an American lady that “we don’t serve prosecco, only champagne.”

  9. Steve says:

    I’ll give them £30 for the lot

  10. Sumira A says:

    Is there a date for the auction?

    • No. These things take quite a while to get selected, photographed, catalogued etc and the sale calendars are fixed a year in advance so you need to slot into an existing auction of relevant material. For the high value items Sothebys will even lend the pictures to potential buyers for a few days so they can see how it looks on their wall.

      • Oh dear! I shall miss that arty je ne sais quoi as I champ my way through the beef tajine. Here’s somewhere that won’t be flogging off its modern art any time soon: Hotel Castell, Zuoz, Switzerland. Features a neon sign IT’S FREEZING IN HERE (by David Shrigley) and Skyspace Piz Utèr (by James Turrell). Or how about an IHG Indigo night? Grand Hotel des Arts, Verona. With works by Ciardi, Cascella, Minguzzi, Manzù, Purificato, Murer, Arnoldi and many others. Yay!

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