A PAINTING by LS Lowry which was previously sold by Bury Council to balance the books fetched almost £2 million when it went under the hammer this week.

A Riverbank, pictured, was sold for £1,986,500 at Sotheby’s on Tuesday, as part of the collection of racehorse owner and waste paper merchant AJ Thompson, who died in July.

The collection fetched more than £15 million in total, with 13 paintings being sold and two failing to meet the reserve price.

The painting was sold by the council in 2006 for £1.4 million at auction, to help fill a £10 million shortfall.

The move proved controversial, with the council being accused of “cultural vandalism” by the Museum Association.

The painting had been on display in Bury Museum and Art Gallery for half a century after being purchased in 1951.

Lowry had close links to Bury, serving as the second president of Bury Art Society and teaching as the town’s Arts and Crafts Centre.