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VUW students explain sale of Don Binney painting

Press Release – VUWSA
The Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association decided in 2017 to sell the three artworks that it had purchased from 1963-1972. The artworks have been sold individually since then, with the final one, Don Binney’s Mana Island, going to auction last night. Bought in 1972, VUWSA paid $425 for the work.

VUWSA decided to sell the artworks because maintaining an art collection was not our core role. The three artworks bought in the 1963-1972 period were also all bought in isolation, and no purchases had been made since then.

While the original purchase decisions were made by the VUWSA Executive, the decision to sell was made by the VUWSA Trust, by the Executive, and by the 2017 Initial General Meeting of students. There was no significant dissent at those meetings.

The VUWSA Trust has trustees appointed by VUWSA, and includes the President and Treasurer ex officio, as well as three previous VUWSA presidents. VUWSA gifted the three artworks to the Trust in 2011, on the condition that any sale must be approved by the VUWSA Executive and a General Meeting. That process has been followed.

The delay between the decision and the sale is due to VUWSA honouring an existing loan agreement to Te Herenga Waka – Victoria University of Wellington. The University has no part in this sale. VUWSA lent Mana Island, and another work, to the University for many years, and we appreciate their hosting of the pieces.

Proceeds from the sale will be managed by the VUWSA Trust. The Trust has managed VUWSA’s long-term projects and investments since 1975. It is a registered charity and will invest any funds from the auction, using the proceeds to provide sustainable funding to VUWSA and other student purposes.

VUWSA recognises that Mana Island is a significant work and that many have enjoyed it during the 50 years it was on campus. We understand entirely that some people would have preferred the painting to have stayed on campus, but our student members voted clearly, and we are a representative body. Students will continue to be well-served by the University’s own much larger art collection.

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