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September 01, 2008

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Ophelia Benson

Another point is that it's not a choice between the Titians and the social goods - it's a choice between location of the Titians and the social goods - at least, it is if the Titians are destined for another museum or other public place.

In fact there are various issues. If the Titians will be sold to private collectors, that's the loss of a general public good, not just a UK or Scottish public good. If they will be sold to another museum, that just means it will be easier for some people to see them and more difficult for others; they'll be recirculated rather than removed.

If the latter is the case, how much of the concern has to do with national prestige? Is national prestige less worth considering than relative ease of access? Does it matter whether ease of access shifts from one place to another? If so, what are the criteria? (Population density? Relative lack of access to art?)

The more you look at it the more complicated it gets. [wanders off scratching head]

Nigel Warburton

Yes, I agree Ophelia. And even if the paintings go into a private collection, many private collectors are sufficiently philanthropic (or else recognise that public display in major collections increases the worth of the paintings) to lend them to national museums and travelling exhibitions. So even in a private collector's hands, they might be available to many people. A tricky one.

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