'Graces' may stay in Britain

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A FOUR-YEAR battle to keep Antonio Canova's The Three Graces in Britain last night appeared to have been successful, writes Charles Oulton.

Baron Heinrich Thyssen- Bornemisza was reported to have offered the final pounds 800,000 needed to save the pounds 7.6m statue. It has been bought by the Getty Museum in California, but arts and heritage ministers, including Stephen Dorrell, the current Secretary of State, have delayed the granting of an export licence in the hope that the money could be raised by a British museum or gallery.

The baron, who owns the world's most important art collection after the Queen, was reported as saying that he thought it was 'idiotic to let the statue go to California for little amount of money so I decided to help'.

The statue is likely to be shared by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the National Gallery of Scotland.