The Mayor of L.S. Lowry’s Hometown Implores Wealthy Athletes to Buy a $9 Million Soccer Painting by the Artist to Keep It in a Local Museum

Otherwise the work could be sold off to a private collection.

L.S. Lowry, Going to the Match (1953). Property of the Players Foundation. Photo courtesy of Christie's London.

An important painting by the late English artist L.S. Lowry is heading to auction at Christie’s “Modern British and Irish art Evening Sale” in London on Wednesday, and its potential hometown departure has sparked an uproar.

Since the city council of Salford, where Lowry was born, can’t afford to buy Going to the Match themselves, Salford mayor Paul Dennett is asking prominent local figures and wealthy athletes to pitch in and ensure the work stays on Salford soil.

Lowry’s 1953 painting depicts revelers streaming into the now-defunct Bolton Wanderers field at Burnden Park for a soccer match. A statement from the city council said it’s currently owned by the Professional Footballers Association’s Players Foundation, a charitable athletes’ union, which purchased it in 1999 for nearly $2.2 million.

Then-CEO Gordon Taylor called it “quite simply the finest football painting ever,” according to the Guardian. The foundation expects to earn more than $9 million from the forthcoming sale.

A visitor walks past L.S. Lowry's <em>Going to the Match</em>, on display at a Christie's exhibition in Dubai on September 15, 2022. Photo by Karim Sahib/AFP via Getty Images.

A visitor walks past L.S. Lowry’s Going to the Match, on display at a Christie’s exhibition in Dubai on September 15, 2022. Photo by Karim Sahib/AFP via Getty Images.

Going to the Match has lived at the Lowry, a free Salford museum celebrating the artist’s legacy, for the past 22 years—on loan from the Players Foundation. Dennett’s letter said it is “taught about in schools and colleges up and down the country.”

Artnet News is still waiting to learn whether Dennett has heard back from any potential buyers.

The Players Foundation separated from the Professional Footballers Association earlier this year, the Guardian reported, due to an ongoing investigation by England’s charity commission. The foundation announced the sale of Going to the Match soon after the entities parted ways, in order to raise funds for the new body.

The Lowry Centre, Salford Quays, Manchester, 2001. It was named after the Manchester artist LS Lowry. This Millennium project houses two theaters, three art galleries, and conference facilities. One gallery is dedicated to Lowry's works. It was designed by Michael Wilford and Partners and the late James Stirling, and opened in 2000. Photo by English Heritage/Heritage Images/Getty Images.

The Lowry Centre, Salford Quays, Manchester, 2001. It was named after the Manchester artist LS Lowry. This Millennium project houses two theaters, three art galleries, and conference facilities. One gallery is dedicated to Lowry’s works. It was designed by Michael Wilford and Partners and the late James Stirling, and opened in 2000. Photo by English Heritage/Heritage Images/Getty Images.

CNN has reported that the money will combat dementia among retired players.

There’s no guarantee the artwork’s new owner won’t move it from the Lowry to a private collection. “The very essence of L.S. Lowry’s work is to engage with the lives of the working people,” Dennett’s letter reads. “It would be a travesty were this work to be removed from spaces where working people can see it.”

Going to the Match is already on an international tour with Christie’s, and its sale seems certain. Dennett has even urged the U.K. government to place a temporary export ban on the work.

“We will take the work around the country and beyond,” his entreaty concludes, “and the story of how it was kept for the public will become part of its legacy.”

 

More Trending Stories:

A French Auction House Fired the Employee Responsible for Pricing a $7.5 Million Qianlong Vase at Just $1,900

Archaeologists Have Found the Fabled Temple to Poseidon Recorded in the Greek Historian Strabo’s Ancient Encyclopedia

Has the Figuration Bubble Burst? Abstract Painting Dominates the Booths at Frieze London

For Its 30th Anniversary Gala, Robert Wilson’s Fabled Watermill Center Borrowed a Theme from H.G. Wells and Took a ‘Stand’

Jameson Green Won’t Apologize for His Confrontational Paintings. Collectors Love Him for It

 

Auctions Live Now:

21st Century Photographs

Buy Now: Robert Lazzarini

40 Under 10


Follow Artnet News on Facebook:


Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.
  • Access the data behind the headlines with the artnet Price Database.
Subscribe or log in to read the rest of this content.

You are currently logged into this Artnet News Pro account on another device. Please log off from any other devices, and then reload this page continue. To find out if you are eligible for an Artnet News Pro group subscription, please contact [email protected]. Standard subscriptions can be purchased on the subscription page.

Log In