8 FEBRUARY 2003, Page 24

Art for the people

From Mr John V. Sheffield Sir: Philip Hensher's assertion (Books, 25 January) that art never belongs to anyone is rubbish. He says that it is not ours to lose or destroy — maybe so, but the Duke of Northumberland did neither with his Raphael. He is selling it to a famous museum where it will be seen by millions of people in perpetuity. Presumably all those hundreds of Italians who over the years have sold their masterpieces to enrich countries all over the world are even more preposterous vulgarians than the Duke.

John. V Sheffield

Laverstoke, Hampshire