British Airways selling off its art collection – including works by Edinburgh artist Peter Doig and Damien Hirst

A painting by Edinburgh-born artist Peter Doig is among those being valued by experts as cash-strapped British Airways prepares to auction some of its artwork collection.

Works by world-renowned Doig are among the most highly prized by collectors of contemporary art.

Swamped – a painting inspired by a scene from the 1980 horror film, Friday the 13th – sold in 2015 more than £16m.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The image he created of a canoe in a moonlit lagoon sold for nearly $26m US Dollars, setting a new record for a piece by Doig.

Edinburgh artist Peter Doig.Edinburgh artist Peter Doig.
Edinburgh artist Peter Doig.

And in 2017, his 1991 canvas, Rosedale, a painting of a stunning Toronto snowfall, sold for $28.8 million to a telephone bidder.

It is understood that British Airways bosses plan sell at least ten works of art to help balance the books.

As well as Doig, BA’s collection includes works by Damien Hirst, Anish Kapoor, Chris Ofili and Tracey Emin. Some have been displayed at the firm’s Waterside headquarters near Heathrow, but many of the 1,500 pieces in the collection have been displayed prominently in the airline’s executive lounges in transport hubs around the world.

It is understood the auctioneers Sotheby’s valued a number of works held by BA for a potential sale, with one piece by Bridget Riley – described by some as a masterpiece – likely to raise millions. It has not named the Doig work it owns or whether it has more than one of his paintings.

Peter Doig's Red House painting.Peter Doig's Red House painting.
Peter Doig's Red House painting.

The airline has come under fire from politicians for plans to cut 12,000 jobs which it says is necessary because travel demand has slumped under lockdown and is expected to take years to recover.

Doig studied in London during the 1980s and won the Whitechapel Artist award in 1991. Three years later he was nominated for the Turner Prize.

Having returned to Trinidad in 2000, after spending part of his childhood there, he said his paintings had become “more decorative” and “more open”.

Doig is said to be Europe’s most expensive living artist.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

In 2007, his painting White Canoe sold at Sotheby’s for $11.3m, then an auction record for a living European artist.

And in February 2013, his painting, The Architect’s Home in the Ravine, sold for $12m.

Another of his paintings, Gasthof, was sold at Christie’s in 2014 for $17m.

Doig, 61, fled Edinburgh as a teenager and ran away from home, moving to Canada. He claimed to have spent his time there taking the hallucinatory drug LSD, also known as “acid”.

In 1962 he moved with his family to Trinidad, where his father worked with a shipping and trading company.

He also became professor at the Fine Arts Academy in Düsseldorf, Germany.

In 2016, a former Canadian prison officer began a $5 million lawsuit against Doig over a picture he claimed was by the artist. A Chicago court ruled in Doig’s favour later that year, finding that the painting was actually the work of a similarly named man, Peter Doige.

A Message from the Editor

Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

In order for us to continue to provide high quality and trusted local news on this free-to-read site, I am asking you to also please purchase a copy of our newspaper.

Our journalists are highly trained and our content is independently regulated by IPSO to some of the most rigorous standards in the world. But being your eyes and ears comes at a price. So we need your support more than ever to buy our newspapers during this crisis.

With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our local valued advertisers - and consequently the advertising that we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you helping us to provide you with news and information by buying a copy of our newspaper.

Thank you

Joy Yates

Editorial Director



Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.