Brexit: UK museums to lose European pictures?

April 1 2017

Image of Brexit: UK museums to lose European pictures?

Picture: National Gallery

UK museums have been threatened with the loss of some of their best works under the government's Brexit negotiation strategy. Ministers have conceded that the EU's demands for a €60bn 'divorce bill' will somehow have to be met, but instead of a cash settlement they have suggested using some of the UK's most valuable works of art as collateral. This will mean the National Gallery losing iconic works such as Leonardo's 'Burlington House Cartoon' (above right). 

A source familiar with the plans told AHN:

This is not as bad as it sounds, because the pictures will only be permanently loaned; we won't be surrendering full title. And in return institutions like the Louvre have said they'll give us some of their best British pictures. So this is very much 'British pictures for British museums', and that in turn fits in with the government's 'Empire 2.0' strategy. If we end up with too many Constables, we'll send them to Africa.

It is understood the Prime Minister has personally pledged the Leonardo cartoon to Germany, after confessing that she never got the joke anyway.

Update - a reader has learnt of this similarly devastating bit of EU news:

After years of indecision, the European Commission decided today that all works of art within the European Union, irrespective of their value, are part of the common European heritage, and therefore inalienable, in other words, that they cannot be exported outside the European Union. In a complete reversal of previous policy, which delegated the definition of 'national heritage' and how to deal with it, to national governments, the Commission has promised to pledge 'as much as is necessary' to acquire any work of art that has been bought by a non-EU citizen or institution, to prevent its export beyond E.U. boundaries. Many protestors, mostly dealers, have complained that this move would effectively kill the art market in the E.U.; but the Commission is implacable, and refuses to countenance any change of policy.

Update II - bless you for putting up with my April Fools posts. I'm still quite pleased with this old favourite from 2014.

Update III - someone has actually taken the idea and run with it!

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