A Bridget Riley painting worth up to £1.2m ($1.37m) will kick off a sale of British Airways’ corporate art collection as the struggling airline is seeking to raise funds amid an unprecedented global collapse in passenger demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Sotheby’s will offer 17 paintings, prints and works on paper from the British Airways Collection at two auctions in London later this month. Work has been suspended in the airline’s executive lounges and its waterfront headquarters near London Heathrow.
The offering will be led by Riley, who was the subject of a recent critically acclaimed retrospective at London’s Hayward Gallery. Cool Edge from 1982, estimated to be worth between £800,000 and £1.2million, features the female artist’s iconic stripe paintings of the 1980s and will be one of the highlights of the Inter Evening Sale -categories of Sotheby’s in London, ‘Rembrandt to Richter’, July 28.
The auction comes as British Airways, which is owned by IAG IAG,
cut costs, laid off thousands of workers and parked its fleet to try to avoid collapse in the face of an unprecedented travel crisis.
Read: Demand for air travel will take ‘several years’ to recover, warns British Airways as it plans to cut up to 12,000 jobs
IAG boss Willie Walsh said BA is “fighting for its survival”. The carrier’s restructuring plan, which includes the loss of 12,000 jobs, has been criticized for its ‘fire and rehire’ tactics and has prompted MPs from all political parties to pressure UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to quit. reviewing BA’s popular landing slots at airports, including Heathrow.
“During this unprecedented time, we have made the decision to work with Sotheby’s, one of the world’s largest and most trusted auction houses, to sell a number of pieces by artists including Bridget Riley and Damien Hirst, Carolina Martinoli, Director of Brand and Customer Experience, BA.
Sotheby’s online auction of modern and post-war British art, scheduled for July 20-30, will feature seven more Riley serigraphs from the British Airways Collection, including five works from his 1971 Elongated Triangles series. Other works going under the hammer will include Terry Frost and Patrick Heron, as well as prints by Damien Hirst, Julian Opie and Peter Doig.
Read:British Airways could auction off works of art to raise much-needed funds
Oliver Barker, Sotheby’s chairman for Europe, said the UK collection “rightly” features a roll call of some of the greatest artistic names of the second half of the 20th century.