TATE BUYS TRUSTEE CHRIS OFILI'S THE UPPER ROOM FOR £705,000
This site first drew attention to the fact
that Chris Ofili, whose work The Upper Room was a major purchase
by the Tate trustees, is himself one of those trustees, who had earlier
asked other artists to donate work.
on this site about the Chris Ofili Upper Room Tate trustee scandal
+ May 2003 - Jul 2003 -
Nov 2003 - Jan
to Charity Commission and DCMS
to Paul Myners
TATE TRUSTEES (2006)
responsibility for the proper conduct of the Tate lies with its Trustee
Board, the Chairman of which is Paul
Myners, who has so far failed to make any public statement about
the Ofili purchase.
in 2006 were:
Myners, Chairman of Guardian Media Group, Marks and Spencer,
Aspen Reinsurance and Low Pay Commission, member of the Court of the
Bank of England and a non-executive director of the Bank of New York,
a Trustee of Glyndebourne and the Smith Institute, previously a Trustee
of the Royal Academy
Alexander, Chief Executive of The Economist Group
Barnsley, Chief Executive Officer for HarperCollins UK
Clore, Deputy Chairman of Sotheby's Europe
Davies, Director of the London School of Economics
Anish Kapoor, a sculptor*
Lankester, Director of Grants, Balance Charitable Foundation
Latto, Adviser on Higher Education to Government Office for
Julian Opie, an artist
Fiona Rae, a painter
Snow, presenter of Channel 4 News
J. Studzinski, Chief Executive Corporate, Investment Banking
and Markets at HSBC Holdings Limited
Kapoor replaced Chris Ofili as a trustee in January 2006 and was not
involved in the purchase of The Upper Room.
Not all of the trustees were serving during the whole period of the
purchase. Gillian Wearing left during it.
Chris Ofili, artist and Tate Trustee
Chris Ofili was appointed a trustee on 22 November
2000. His term of office came to an end on 21 November 2005. The proposal
to purchase his work arose at the Trustees meeting in January 2003,
while he was a serving trustee, and the purchase completed in January
2005. Chris Ofili is also a member of the Collection Committee.
When he won the Turner Prize in 1998 he exclaimed, "Oh man. Thank
God! Where's my cheque?"
Myners, Chairman of Tate Trustees
Paul Myners CBE
is Chairman of Tate Trustees. He is also Acting Chairman of Marks
and Spencer, Chairman of Aspen Insurance, Chairman of Guardian Media
Group, member of the Court of Directors of the Bank of England, and
Non-Executive Director of the Bank of New York (photo
The Guardian reported of Paul Myners:
warned that business could lose its legitimacy if it did not...
stop hiding behind a wall of non-disclosure. "Empires, religions
and monarchies have all collapsed where there has been a lack of
openness," he argued. "It is a form of soft corruption which encourages
an outcry against them.""
BBC governors that they had not
more initiative in instituting reviews of themselves, reviews of their
He was involved
in Marks and Spencer sleaze allegations and, said the Daily
Mail, his board
"sullied the company's reputation for integrity"
Tate's behaviour, which is the responsibility of its trustees, displays
a distinct 'lack of openness', defined by trustees chairman Paul Myners
Chairman and Chairman
of Marks & Spencer on the generosity of Tate trustee
Chris Ofili selling his work The Upper Room to the
Tate for £705,000
(trustee minutes, September 2005):
He noted that the artist had made a substantial discount
on the work because it was going to a public collection.
Grayson Perry is obviously more clued up on these matters
than city businessman Myners (The
A work purchased by a leading public institution boosts
an artist’s stock, which is why dealers will offer considerable
discounts to museums.
Nicholas Serota, Tate Director, on Artist Trustees
"It might be thought that there was
a conflict of interest, but, in my experience, the presence of the
artists on the board is a very, very powerful force that ensures that
some of these positions of conflict are exposed and discussed.....
I wouldn’t go so far as to say they’re the moral conscience, but they,
undoubtedly, will remind some of the trustees who come from other
worlds, including corporate finance, that the rules in our world are
not necessarily the same in theirs."
- Nicholas Serota, Curating Now symposium
, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts 2000
NACF and David Verey
The National Art Collections Fund (NACF) shows its Art
Fund Grants This Quarter. In each case there are two figures,
the amount of the grant and the total cost, apart from the Ofili purchase.
Such is the secrecy around this purchase that under the grant figure
of £75,000, the cost is shown only as "Discounted Museum
Price". David Verey is the current Chairman of the NACF. At the
time the decision was taken to purchase Ofili's The Upper Room, he
was the Chairman of the Tate Trustees.
Studzinski and HSBC sponsorship
was a Tate trustee 1998-2007. He was also co-head of the corporate,
investment banking and markets division of HSBC bank, who sponsored
a Frieda Kahlo exhibition at Tate Modern for £1m. In The
Daily Telegraph (18.6.05), he said:
are not doing sponsorship to do sponsorship. We are doing this because
we see this as a commercial opportunity."
Committee Principles of Public Life
The Tate states, "The Board of Trustees of the Tate
Gallery is required to follow the principles established by the Nolan
Committee in the conduct of public bodies." Two of these
"Openness - Holders of public office should be as open as
possible about all the decisions and actions that they take. They
should give reasons for their decisions and restrict information only
when the wider public interest clearly demands."
"Selflessness - holders of public office should act solely in
terms of the public interest. They should not do so in order to gain
financial or other benefits for themselves, their family or their
We call on
Chris Ofili to follow the Nolan principle of selflessness and to
do what he urged other artists to do by donating his own work and
refunding the money for it.
using resources more effectively
The trustees meeting minutes
for January 2005 state:
were updated on the progress of the Effective Tate project which,
since its inception in September 2004, had aimed to review the
effectiveness of the operation at Tate and to explore ways in
which resources could be used more efficiently in a climate of
constrained grant and rising cost pressures."
your own collection on the Tate web site
'expensive work of a serving trustee' collection
"You can send your completed collection to a friend, print
it as a leaflet and submit it to our competition. The winning collection
will be made into a leaflet and will be available to visitors at
See comments on this wonderful PR idea on Square
Roots blog on Guardian site by its arts correspondent
Charlotte Higgins. So far, blogs by Michael Daley (ArtWatch UK),
Independent Turner Society and Stuckists.
Judges of the new Maxmara art prize include two participants in
the Ofili scandal - Gillian Wearing, former Tate Trustee, and Ofili's
dealer, Victoria Miro - Observer