The artist Bob and Roberta Smith, accompanied by friends and artists, led a flashmob-style protest today outside the headquarters of Tower Hamlets council.

Smith, real name Patrick Brill, was campaigning against the proposed sale of the Henry Moore sculpture, nicknamed ‘Old Flo’, which Moore sold to Tower Hamlets for £6000 in 1960. It is currently installed at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Predictions of its sale value have been as high as £20million.

The flashmob, which included American performance artist Jessica Voorsanger dressed as Henry Moore, wore green dresses and reclined on the steps outside the council building, in the style of Moore’s famous sculpture.

Smith said: “Hitler destroyed the East End, Henry Moore, with others, rebuilt it and now a council who seem ignorant of the area’s less recent past is selling off its principle monument to peace. For me it is like smashing up a war memorial.”

The proposed sale of the sculpture has provoked widespread condemnation, including from Tower Hamlets resident Danny Boyle. It has also prompted fears of more publicly-owned art being sold in order to plug the hole in public finances.

A privately owned public sculpture by Sir Eduardo Paolozzi is set to be auctioned on 14 November. The giant bronze statue has been on display in central London for 25 years in front of an office at 34-36 High Holborn. English Heritage and the Twentieth Century Society has petitioned Camden Council to try and prevent its sale.

There will be a public meeting on Saturday 17 November at Hales Gallery, 7 Bethnal Green Road, London, 3pm, to discuss ways of stopping Old Flo and other public artworks being sold off.