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″Vertebrae” To Remain In Seattle

October 9, 1986 GMT

SEATTLE (AP) _ A Henry Moore sculpture, ″Vertebrae,″ will remain in Seattle after a deal was worked out with a buyer who had reportedly planned to move the bronze artwork to Japan.

The Seattle Art Museum announced Wednesday it had acquired the Moore piece, which was commissioned in 1968 and has been in front of a skyscraper now called the 1001 Fourth Avenue Building since 1971.

Museum officials said Seafirst Bank and the owner of the building, represented by JMB Realty Corp. of Chicago, had both made generous donations and had ″spent the past several weeks negotiating a purchase agreement with the owner.″

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″Vertebrae″ will remain at its downtown location but could eventually be moved to the museum’s new building, to open in 1989, said museum acting director Bonnie Pitman-Gelles.

Moore died Aug. 31 in Much Hadham, England. He was considered one of the foremost sculptors of his time.

Seafirst board member Samuel Stroum estimated it cost about $2 million to buy back the piece.

″We made a mistake,″ Stroum said of Seafirst’s decision during the summer to sell the sculpture to JMB Property Management Corp. ″No one had anticipated public reaction to the sale.″

At the time Seafirst sold the piece, news reports indicated it would remain in Seattle.

However, JMB announced Aug. 27 the sculpture had been purchased by a Boston art dealer on behalf of a client, and that it would be moved. At one point, movers said the sculpture was headed to Japan.

Seattle residents reacted strongly, and a petition requesting that the 8- ton sculpture remain in the city got 2,000 signatures.

″Both Seafirst and JMB deserve a lot of credit for listening to the people of this city,″ said Mayor Charles Royer.

Burt Glazov, executive vice president of JMB in Chicago, said Seafirst and JMB would be able to get a tax deduction on a portion of what they lost on the deal.