Croydon Council breaks its own policy and goes against its own legal advice next week when part of the publicly owned Riesco Collection of precious Chinese porcelain, which was given to the borough by Raymond Riesco half a century ago, is flogged off in a pawn shop auction in Hong Kong.
And just like the Conservative party nationally, which has been trying to erase their broken election pledges from the interweb, Tory-run Croydon Council has been trying to airbrush history on their own website, to eradicate embarrassing references to the Riesco Collection.
And as you might expect of Croydon Council, they can’t even do that properly.The council website has various pages about the borough’s parks and properties, including one for Heathfield House, the former home of the Riesco family. The page has for some time detailed the history and attributes of Heathfield, its gardens and the neighbouring farmland, how it once had stables where Derby-winning horses were trained, and how the house was sold by Raymond Riesco to Croydon Council in the 1950s.
Until very recently, the Croydon Council web page explained – accurately – how millionaire Riesco’s world-famous collection of Chinese porcelain had come to be given to the corporation.
The council’s website specifically referred to Riesco making a “gift” of his collection, something which is supported in deeds from the time, and is an important legal point for Croydon Council in 2013. The legal status of the collection has been a little awkward for the council, and therefore they have been trying to mislead people about it. Auction house Christie’s slick sales video buys in to this deceit, referring to the council “acquiring” the collection, insinuating that it was in some way “bought”, so that now it is the council’s to “sell”.
The council website said: “In 1958, Riesco made another agreement with the Corporation under which he would make a gift of his collection of Oriental China, complete with 15 showcases and a collection of etchings – mezzotints and watercolours, to the Corporation on the condition that they were not split up.”
Notice that? “On the condition that they were not split up”.
The website also noted: “Due to lack of security at Heathfield the Riesco collection was moved to Fairfield Halls in Croydon. The collection is now housed in its own gallery in Croydon Clocktower.”
But as if by magic, just recently, the council’s Heathfield web page has undergone a change.
The paragraph explaining how the Riesco Collection had been gifted to the council, under strict legal conditions, has suddenly vanished. As if it had never happened. They wish.
Unfortunately, the twerp who was dispatched to try to erase this piece of history, in Orwellian Ministry of Truth style, did not manage to work through the whole article, so that the sentence about the move of the Riesco Collection from Heathfield, first to the Fairfield Halls and thence to the Clocktower remains, hanging there somewhat limply, without any explanation of what this collection is. Or was.
Which sort of sums up the leadership of the Tory-run council very well: they are liars, but incompetent even at that.
- HT for spotting this – and importantly having the archived web page – to Anthony Miller
- Museums Association kicks out Croydon over Riesco sale
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Coming to Croydon
- Library’s Dr Who day: Nov 23
- Much Ado About Nothing: Nov 25
- Sex in the Cronx, Nov 26-29
- Future Tech City: Nov 30
- Follow in the footsteps of Pirie: Dec 1
- Comedy in Music show: Dec 1
- The Lives of Stanley Halls community entertainment: Dec 4
- Steve Knightly at Stanley Halls: Feb 5
- Inside Croydon: Croydon’s only independent news source, based in the heart of the borough – 262,183 page views (Jan-Jun 2013)
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