Petition opposes auction of Carbisdale Castle artworks
A petition has been started opposing the sale of artworks by the Scottish Youth Hostel Association (SYHA).
Paintings and Victorian marble statues held at Carbisdale Castle, a former youth hostel near Ardgay, have been valued at a total of £500,000.
Organisers of the petition on the website change.org want the works should remain in the local community.
SYHA said it was selling art "with regret" and the money raised would help to sustain the association.
The petition's organisers said because the castle and its contents were gifted to SYHA, the association should not be selling off the art to make a profit.
More than 700 people have signed the petition so far.
SYHA shut Carbisdale Castle in Sutherland four years ago because of rising repair costs.
A former stately home, it was known as Castle of Spite because of the part it played in a family feud. The property is also said to be haunted by a ghost called Betty.
SYHA said it would invest money raised from the sale of the castle's artworks in its network of youth hostels. It is also selling the castle.
Association chief Keith Legge said: "SYHA is selling Carbisdale Castle with regret because we cannot find the necessary funding to finish the extensive refurbishment following damage caused by meltwater during the winter of 2010/2011.
"Furthermore, it has become financially unsustainable to operate the property as a youth hostel in the long term and SYHA, as a registered charity, has a responsibility to appropriately manage its assets for the good of the organisation."
He added: "Highland Council and Historic Scotland have confirmed that there is no restriction on the sale of the statues or artwork as these do not form an integral part of the castle's listing status."
The 17 sculptures and 36 Italian and Scottish 19th Century paintings will be offered for sale at an auction in London on 20 May.
Auctioneers Sotheby's have put a combined value of £500,000 on the art.
White marble sculptures from the 1800s to be sold include Andromeda by Florentine sculptor Pasquale Romanelli and Nymph at the Stream by Scottish artist David Watson Stevenson.
It will be the first time in more than a century that the Victorian sculptures have been put on the market.