A cast iron sculpture of an abstracted head by Sir Eduardo Paolozzi has been left “unloved and filthy” because no one is claiming ownership.
20th century British sculptor Paolozzi is perhaps best known for his colourful mosaics at Tottenham Court Road Station. He sculpted ’Piscator’ for the forecourt of London’s Euston Station. A tribute to 20th century German Expressionist and political theatre director, Erwin Piscator, it was commissioned by British Rail in 1980.
Yet despite being worth hundreds of thousands of pounds the sculpture is showing marked signs of deterioration and there are no plans to clean it.
The Eduardo Paolozzi Foundation desperately want to restore the piece to its former glory but without the owner’s permission they cannot touch it. Following the privatisation of British Rail in the 1990s the question of its ownership remains an open question that no one seems to want to answer.
For many years the foundation has endeavoured to solve this conundrum. Its trustee, Toby Treves, told the Guardian that the foundation first enquired with Network Rail, the freeholder of the land on which the sculpture is situated. Network Rail denied ownership of the work and consequently any maintenance responsibility.
When the foundation contacted Sydney & London Properties, the leaseholder of the area, it too denied ownership. S&L explained that only the physical buildings in the area were demised under its leasehold, not the outdoor space.
Treves marvelled at the “absurdity” of the situation. “The foundation would willingly pay to restore and clean the sculpture, but we can’t do it without the permission of the owners and… nobody seems to know who they are”, he said.