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Last Updated: Friday, 17 November 2006, 21:14 GMT
Council's Lowry sold for 1.25m

A painting by LS Lowry which was sold by a council to reduce its debts, has raised 1.25m for the authority.

A Riverbank, owned by Bury Council in Greater Manchester, sold for more than twice the expected price when it went under the hammer at Christie's.

The work - depicting the River Irwell - cost 175 in 1951 and was expected to fetch between 500,000 and 800,000.

The decision to sell the painting has sparked claims the council was "selling off the family silver".

A spokeswoman for Christie's said the buyer paid 1,408,000, including commission.

Record sale

The price was the second highest price paid for a painting by the world-famous Salford artist at auction.

The most expensive is a work called Going To The Match, which was bought for 1,926,500 by the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) at Sotheby's auction house in 1999.

The Museums Association had described the sale of A Riverbank as "deeply irresponsible" and said the council faced expulsion from the Museums Association.

But the authority is facing an estimated 10m budget shortfall and said the sale was essential to fund its core services.

Matchstick men

The authority, which displayed the painting at Bury Museum and Art Gallery, said it was putting its people before a picture.

Christie's sold the painting as part of a sale of 20th Century British art. Other Lowry works up for auction included The Empty House and The Local Store.

LS Lowry is most famous for his matchstick men and industrial landscapes, based largely on Manchester and Salford.

His painting of Liverpool's famous Liver Building waterfront was sold for more than 1m at auction in June.

Council Lowry 'may make 800,000'
14 Nov 06 |  Manchester
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14 Nov 06 |  Glasgow and West
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25 Oct 06 |  Manchester
Threatened Lowry 'stays on show'
17 Feb 06 |  Manchester

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