British Airways to sell art collection to raise cash

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BA owns art by Damien Hirst, although not one of his “pickled sharks”.

British Airways is selling some of its multi-million-pound art collection to raise cash to help it through the coronavirus pandemic.

The collection includes art by Damien Hirst, Bridget Riley and Peter Doig, with one work believed to have been valued at more than £1m.

It is understood at least 10 pieces have been identified for sale, although exactly which ones is unclear.

BA has seen a collapse in air travel and is set to cut thousands of jobs.

Last week, BA boss Alex Cruz warned that the cash-strapped airline’s survival was at stake unless there was a drastic restructuring of the business.

London’s Evening Standard newspaper, which first reported news of the art sell-off, said auction house Sotheby’s had been brought in to arrange sales as soon as possible.

Other works in BA’s collection are pieces by Tracey Emin, Anish Kapoor and Chris Ofili. The airline would not comment on the sale, nor identify which works would go under the hammer.

However, the most valuable piece is believed to be by Bridget Riley and worth, according to one source, “at least seven figures”. It has been in BA’s possession for more than 30 years, with the value increasing significantly since purchase.

Like most airlines, BA’s finances have been hit by the grounding of aircraft due to the virus lockdown. The airline proposes to make 12,000 staff redundant, with more than 1,000 pilot roles at risk.

BA said it was acting now to protect as many jobs possible and insisted no final decision had been made on the number of jobs to go.

Plans for job cuts have sparked a bitter row with unions, and BA has been accused by some MPs of using the pandemic as an excuse to restructure the airline.

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