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‘Truly grotesque’ crab sculpture blocked from being sold abroad | Ents & Arts News



The sale of a £217,000 sculpture of a “truly grotesque” crab with teeth to an overseas buyer has been blocked.

The “whimsical” ceramic creation, sporting wide eyes and a toothy leer, has been sold to a foreign buyer – but blocked from leaving the country.

Efforts are now being made to keep the unique sculpture in the UK by finding another buyer.

The sculpture was made in 1880 by the Martin Brothers, famed for their works inspired by Gothic art and the natural world.

Arts minister Rebecca Pow said: “The Martin Brothers are famous for creating unique and unusual works that are entertaining yet at the same time unsettling, which makes the crab with teeth such a whimsical and eclectic treasure.

“I hope that a buyer can be found so we can keep this work in this country to inspire future generations of potters.”

The price of the crab is £217,000, with an expected VAT of £43,000.

Export of the sculpture was recommended to be blocked by the Reviewing Committee On The Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA).

Chairman Sir Hayden Phillips said: “A truly grotesque creature, it represents the pinnacle of their work, and we also concluded that it was of outstanding aesthetic importance reflecting the fact that this criterion does not necessarily imply that an object has to be beautiful to pass that test.”

The decision on the export licence applications for the crab will be deferred until 16 September.

This may be extended by three months if a serious attempt to raise funds to purchase it is made.

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