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Last Updated: Friday, 28 May, 2004, 11:36 GMT 12:36 UK
Legal threat over art fire loss
Firefighters on scene of fire in Leyton, east London
The London Fire Brigade is currently carrying out an investigation
The owners of some artworks destroyed in a fire are considering legal action against the art storage firm whose warehouse went up in flames.

Author Shirley Conran and artist Gillian Ayres had 2m of art at the Momart facility in Leyton, east London.

Their lawyer Razi Mireskandari said he was looking into legal action on the grounds that Momart's safety procedures were not stringent enough.

A Momart spokesperson insisted the company had not been negligent.

"Some of the reports I have heard so far have been dismaying," Mr Mireskandari told BBC News Online.

Would you expect the Tate gallery to be next to a welder's yard?
Razi Mireskandari
Lawyer
"But we have to get confirmation of how the fire started and what processes were in place," he said.

"Only then can we ascertain whether they were reasonable given the standards one would expect for such priceless and invaluable artworks."

Mr Mireskandari said he would be looking into details of the property's lease and what limits were set for other leaseholders' activities or equipment.

"Would you expect the Tate gallery to be next to a welder's yard?" he asked.

The fire, which is thought to have destroyed more than 50m of art, broke out at the storage facility, part of an industrial estate in Leyton on Monday.

We had all the necessary safety and security processes in place to provide adequate protection
Momart
Many of the items were owned by collector Charles Saatchi, and included work by artists including Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin.

Momart have said the fire started at the other end of the estate and there are reports it broke out in a car repair yard.

But a London Fire Brigade spokesman declined to comment on the cause or origins of the fire and they are currently carrying out an investigation.

A Momart spokeswoman said: "We have had our loss adjusters and insurers confirm we had all the necessary safety and security processes in place to provide adequate protection."

"We take security and safety very seriously and have enjoyed a blemish-free record since we were founded in 1971," Momart said on Thursday.

Damien Hirst's 22ft (6.7m) Charity, based on the old Spastic Society collection boxes, was one of the artworks thought destroyed later found to have been saved.

Loss assessors and forensic investigators had found it leaning against a "precarious wall" on Thursday.


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