Sunday, 28 October 2007

William Morris Proposal

Spencer Stanhope - PenelopeKate Catleugh of the De Morgan Foundation shocked a recent meeting when she proposed that the collection housed in the William Morris Gallery, Walthamstow, be moved "on permanent loan" to a new arts and crafts museum in Lambeth (CLICK). The picture shown here is Penelope by Spencer Stanhope, one of 11 paintings the De Morgan Foundation put up for auction at Christie's in 2001. Nine of these works were sold for £1.3 million (title link). I was therefore surprised when I found that the accounts of the De Morgan Foundation - registered charity No. 310004 - reported gross income of only £40,980 in the year ending December 2001 and even more surprised that there were no accounts at all for 2002 (CLICK). Not being an accountant, I have no idea whether money gained from asset-stripping - called "deaccessioning" in the art lark - should be entered under gross income. But what happened to the accounts for 2002? I'm sure there's an innocent explanation. So I have today written to the Charity Commission to learn what that explanation is.


At 29/10/07, Anonymous DGS said...

You've done the right thing in approaching the Charities Commission who should either be able to provide an acceptable and reasonably accurate answer or take 'appropriate' steps to remedy the situation. As to the sums involved, you cannot read too much into that since, to the very best of my knowledge, they need only to show the profit (or loss) figure in the annual accounts; it therefore depends entirely upon what, if anything, they paid for the painting and perhaps whether the Charity actually owned it. I suppose that it is possible that they may have been acting as an agent, who knows? I would be very surprised if they got away without completing accounts for 2002. In short, it all depends on the level of detail that the Charities Commission require in the accounts but I would imagine that it is to say the least very substantial. I am absolutely confident that Morris Hickey will wish to
submit another opinion. As a matter of interest and going back some 15 years I do know that a small number of officers from H.M. Customs and Excise were despatched to the Charities Commission to 'bolster their resolve'.

At 29/10/07, Blogger Coxsoft Art said...

Thank you for your comment.

The paintings sold were part of the De Morgan collection and were sold by the trustees of the Foundation in order to fund a new museum.

I'll post anything interesting I receive from the Commission.

At 30/10/07, Anonymous mdj said...

Well done, Coxsoft, for squirrelling this out. It's quite fair to ask how safe a custodian of artefacts the DeM people are: there was a damaging break-in, with breakages and thefts, last July, when someone climbed in through a WC window, which Mrs Catleugh forgot to mention to the public meeting in W'stow. And in her reply to the Friends, while taking very amiss the criticisms raised at that meeting of the Christie sale, she did not answer the key questions it raised (especially the basic one of its legality: can bequests be treated as cash donations for resale in this way?) mdj

At 30/10/07, Blogger Coxsoft Art said...

Thank you.

I believe the De Morgan Foundation also lost items in a fire when the collection was in storage!

And check out my post yesterday on the Beaufoy Institute!


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