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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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Comments (59)

  • Andrew says:

    And this is also a build up for further “enhancements” which will happen in the lounges once they get around to opening them again. No-touch tap water fountains rather than mineral water, Carex instead of Elemis in the toilets, no newspapers or magazines, oh and of course no alcohol because we can’t follow social distancing when drunk (which is their reason for not serving on board now). Don’t think we’ll be missing out on much when we don’t get our gold cards renewed this year.

    • AJA says:

      You’re making a big assumption that they’ll even reopen the lounges. No need for art let alone any of the other items you mention in them if they’re not open.

    • Nick says:

      I think no more mineral water is one of the best things that could come from this. There’s absolutely zero need for heavy glass bottles carried down from Yorkshire when the local mains contains perfectly good and healthy water. I understand flying will never be fully environmentally sound, but they could still do it in a way that had least impact on the environment.

      • Anna says:

        +1, study after study has shown that tap water is perfectly safe to drink.

  • Alex M says:

    Is this art???

    • AJA says:

      Art is in the eye of the beholder. People hanker for a Banksy, personally I don’t think that he has that much talent. He just defaces buildings. I wonder if they’d have torn down the statue in Bristol if he had daubed some graffiti over it?

  • meta says:

    Maybe the plan is to close all lounges for foreseeable future, so no need for art work.

    • Rhys says:

      They’ve been moving away in recent years from the ‘Galleries’ concept anyway. And let’s be honest – when was the last time you enjoyed a lounge because of the art?! Much better to spend that money on lounge fittings and offerings in my opinion, which is where customers will really feel it.

      • AJA says:

        Is it that outdated a concept? I thought that T4 had recently opened an “art & lounge” lounge concept in what was El Al’s lounge? I think I recall Rob re viewing it

        • Rhys says:

          ‘Galleries’ is a brand BA has used in the past for its lounges (the Heathrow lounges still carry it). But its most recent lounge refurbishments globally are no longer called ‘Galleries’ and appear to put less of an emphasis on art.

          ART & LOUNGE, on the other hand, was a third party company that took over El Al’s lounge. Ironically, as we mentioned in our review, there isn’t actually any art on display!

  • SammyJ says:

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

  • Hawgaw says:

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

    • Rhys says:

      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…

    • BT01 says:

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

  • Neil says:

    Is Tracey Emin taking the proverbial?

  • Anna says:

    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.

    • AJA says:

      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.

        • AJA says:

          🙂 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.

        • Rob says:

          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

          • Rob says:

            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 ….

          • Anna says:

            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.

    • Rob says:

      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:-

      https://www.rightmove.co.uk/property-for-sale/property-79002424.html

      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.

      • BT01 says:

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

  • mr_jetlag says:

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

    badum-tssh