BA to sell major artworks as part of COVID-19 survival strategy

Beleaguered airline, British Airways, is to sell £1.4million worth of art from its collection in a bid to cushion the blow of the COVID-19 pandemic.

During this unprecedented time we have made the decision to work with Sotheby’s… to sell a number of pieces by artists including Bridget Riley and Damien Hirst’, Caroline Martinoli, BA’s director of brand and customer experience said in a statement. The 17 artworks from BA’s collection of 1,500 pieces are comprised mainly of British artists and will be auctioned by Sotheby’s this July.

BA, the UK unit of International Consolidated Airlines Group SA, has been ‘fighting for its survival’ as a result of the pandemic according to IAG Chief Executive Officer, Willie Walsh.

The top lot in the BA sale, ‘Cool Edge’ (1982) by Bridget Riley will be sold in the ‘Rembrandt to Richter’ evening sale on 28 July 2020 in London. Sotheby’s created the one-off evening sale which will bring together the best works from its four major collecting areas as a direct consequence of ‘the disruption caused to the traditional art world calendar by the global pandemic’. Described as one of the finest examples of the artist’s stripe paintings and estimated at £800,000 to £1.2 million, the painting was inspired by Riley’s trip to Egypt in 1979 and used to hang in the Concorde Room at Heathrow Terminal 5.

The remaining 16 works will be auctioned by Sotheby’s online in a sale of Modern & Post War British art from 20-30 July 2020. They include seven further screen prints by Riley, a rare Damien Hirst print entitled ‘Valium’ and works by Julian Opie, Peter Doig, Terry Frost, Patrick Heron and Marc Quinn. The artworks were mainly exhibited in BA lounges and at its headquarters.     

Further works in the BA collection, which includes pieces by Tracey Emin and Anish Kapoor, could be auctioned at future sales.

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