Art inventory taking place after State paintings stolen while in storage
An inventory of all artwork held by the Department of Arts and Heritage is taking place following the disclosure that two paintings owned by the State were listed for sale at an auction in Dublin late last year.
The paintings were recovered by gardaí who are now investigating whether other items owned by the State may have disappeared from private storage. A public servant spotted the paintings in a catalogue produced by Dublin auctioneers Adam’s and alerted the authorities.
The paintings of first Earl of Kenmare Valentine Browne (1754-1812) and his second wife, Mary Aylmer of Lyons, Co Kildare, were in private storage while Killarney House, the ancestral home of the Browne family, which is now owned by the State, is being refurbished.
The Adam’s catalogue gave an estimated value of between €20,000 and €30,000 for the paintings, which were completed in 1802 by Hugh Douglas Hamilton.
The issue was raised in the Seanad yesterday by Killarney Senator Paul Coghlan, who said they had been stolen from storage and sold in London before they turned up in Adam’s.
He expressed the hope that the paintings could be returned to Killarney House when it reopened next year. “I commend everyone involved in the recovery of these paintings, which are an important part of our national heritage.
“I do not know when, or from where, they were stolen, but thankfully they have been recovered thanks to detective work on the part of honourable State servants.”
The department said last night a Garda investigation was under way into “the loss of a number of items” held in private storage on behalf of the department.