Tower Hamlets Council (London) has been widely criticised for its decision to sell off a £20 million Henry Moore sculpture.

The sculpture in question, named Draped Seated Woman, was originally sold by the artist, to the council, in the 1960s, for £6,000. When he did so, it was under the strict proviso that the sculpture be placed in an under-privileged area. However, when the sculpture was vandalised with graffiti, it was “quietly” removed and placed in the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in Wakefield, The Evening Standard reports.

The sculpture, now restored, has remained at the open-air sculpture gallery ever since but now, Tower Hamlets Council has made the decision to sell the artwork to raise funds. Henry Moore’s family have been critical of the decision, as has Sharon Arment, the director of the Museum of London, who claims that her offer to house the sculpture at the museum’s Docklands site was “not even explored.” She urged the council to think again. Moore’s daughter, Mary Moore commented “The problem with selling off the family silver is when you do it’s gone.” The film director Danny Boyle was similarly disgusted at the decision, saying “The sculpture belongs to the people of Tower Hamlets and should stay in public ownership.”

In their defence, Tower Hamlets council has stated that they had little choice, in the face of £100 million government cuts in their budget. They also added that the sculpture “brought no tangible benefit to the Tower Hamlets community.”