A High Court judge has ruled that the Wedgwood Museum’s collection can be sold to pay off creditors, after a £134m pensions deficit forced the Wedgwood Museum Trust to go into administration.
The trust, based in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, went into administration last year following the transfer of the pension debt from the collapse of the Waterford Wedgwood pottery firm, which became insolvent in 2009.
A judge at the High Court in Birmingham ruled yesterday that the museum’s collection, which includes Josiah Wedgwood’s famous Portland Vase and paintings by George Stubbs and Joshua Reynolds, could be sold by the administrators.
However, the administrators, Begbies Traynor, said in a statement that they were "exploring other options to raise money to keep the collection in situ". The statement said the firm had held talks with the Heritage Lottery Fund, the V&A Museum, members of the Wedgwood family and other potential donors about raising funds.
It said the Pension Protection Fund, the main creditor, had indicated it was prepared to allow time for fundraising.
The trust had five employees enrolled in Waterford Wedgwood’s 7,000-member pension scheme. However, because the trust was not in administration when the company collapsed, it became potentially liable for Waterford Wedgwood’s entire £134m debt.
It was put into administration so that the pension plan could seek support from the Pension Protection Fund.
The Wedgwood Museum was unavailable for comment.