London’s Royal Opera House to sell Hockney painting to survive COVID crisis

09 октября 2020

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London’s Royal Opera House is to sell a 1970s painting by David Hockney as it seeks to raise cash to get through the COVID-19 pandemic, the worst crisis in its history.

David Hockney «Portrait of Sir David Webster», 1971 © David Hockney / Christie’s

The painting, which was commissioned for the Covent Garden building in the 1970s, is to go up for auction later this month in an unprecedented attempt to protect the venue’s future as a home for the Royal Ballet and for international opera. Webster, the painting’s subject, ran the Royal Opera House from 1945 to 1970. He was a visionary leader who helped to make the institution world class.

Hockney’s Portrait of David Webster will be put up for auction at Christie’s on Oct. 22. It is estimated to be worth between 11 and 18 million pounds. «This was a really tough call, said Alex Beard, the ROH’s chief executive. But we have to face the situation we are in and if we can remain viable and get through this, then we can get back to employing people in the future.

The decision to sell the painting, which has hung at the Royal Opera House in recent years, is part of a four-point plan to keep the venue going during the pandemic. Redundancies are due to be made and a big donation drive is under way. Meanwhile the internationally renowned opera house also hopes to hear soon about a loan from the Treasury’s emergency bailout fund for the arts.

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