Dublin antique fair: ‘I own a pair of Madonna’s latex knickers’
Silver spoons and memorabilia at 52nd Antique Dealers Fair taking place at the RDS
Laurence Carpenter with costumes worn by Madonna (€16,500) and David Bowie (€7,600) for sale at the 52nd Irish Antique Dealers Fair at the RDS. Photograph: Fran Veale
“I own a pair of Madonna’s latex knickers,” says Laurence Carpenter unexpectedly as he takes The Irish Times on a tour of just some of the music memorabilia he has acquired since he got into the collecting game in a big way more than seven years ago.
He is standing beside a few thin strips of material – he describes it as a jacket – that the Material Girl wore on stage on her Blond Ambition tour in 1990. It has a price tag of €16,500, although he admits he bought it for a lot less off a woman who won it in a newspaper competition more than 20 years ago.
The latex knickers are nowhere to be seen. That is probably for the best as such a thing might cause palpitations among the discerning – and mostly older – audience slowly picking their way through the 52nd Antique Dealers Fair at the RDS in Dublin.
When asked what kind of price they’d fetch, Carpenter has a figure ready to go. “Oh I think they’d get somewhere between €10,000-€15000. Do you know anybody else who has a pair?”
No, no we do not.
Carpenter trades under the Pop Icons name and his pop-up shop at the fair is sure to attract a lot of attention over the course of the weekend with memorabilia connected to David Bowie, Michael Jackson and George Michael also taking prominence.
“From a financial perspective, death is good for me, it’s good for business,” he says matter-of-factly before clarifying that “from a personal perspective I wouldn’t wish anybody dead. And I would have loved to see David Bowie live.”
He pauses again. “I am 36 and Bob Dylan in is in his 70s. I have one of his guitars so you only have to do the maths. That guitar’s moment has yet to come, but it will, it is inevitable for all of us, but, you know, it could be 20 years from now.”
Antique dealer Jim Weldon has set up shop just 50 metres away, but while he and Carpenter are side-by-side they are centuries apart. Weldon’s big draw are two spoons made with Irish silver in the reign of King Charles II.
“These are the oldest spoons I have handled in 54 years in the business,” he says. “They just turned up at a small sale in England this summer. I bought them over the telephone, they were looking for £35,000 and I got them for £10,000,” he says. “I would have paid £30,000.”
Supply and demand
He says that in his business, it is all about supply and demand. “No one anywhere in the world has anything as old as these and you will never see them again,” he stresses. They have a price tag of in excess of €30,000 but they have already attracted considerable interest, he says.
There is nothing so old – or so expensive – selling in the Vintage Hub, the pop-up shop manned by Killian McNulty. He is a third generation collector and was born in 1973. He says the furniture he is most attracted to is around the same age as he is.
“The 1970s didn’t really happen in Ireland, ” he says. “I think that was one good shop in Dún Laoghaire, but apart from that most of the furniture that was sold in Ireland was post-war British furniture.”
That tended to be more utilitarian than aesthetically appealing, he explains.
The furniture and lamps he is selling are certainly aesthetically appealing and he finds in impossible to hide his love for his displays.
“I searched for 17 years,” he says walking over to a complicatedly angular lamp with a sold sticker attached to it. “I saw it first in New York, but didn’t have the money to buy it. But I never stopped thinking about it and I used to even dream about it. Eventually, I found it again.”
And now it is for sale? “Well, no. It doesn’t fit in my house and initially I thought I would sell it, but when push came to shove I just couldn’t. I just wanted to show it off.”