Contents of landmark Irish hotels sell for €200,000 at auction

Largest price paid for single item was €5,200 for John Morris painting of Shelbourne Hotel

The contents of some of Ireland’s best-known hotels have sold for more than €200,000 at auction, organisers confirmed on Thursday.

Irish and overseas bidders snapped up more than 1,100 pieces of furniture, artwork and collectibles following huge clear-outs of the five-star venues during the Covid-19 pandemic.

All of the Celtic Tiger-style furniture, cabinets, chairs, lighting and soft furnishings from the Powerscourt, Westin, Intercontinental and Glenlo Abbey hotels sold. Organisers said the furniture would be given “a new lease of life”, much of it in other hotels.

“The auction had a remarkable sales rate of 97 per cent; there was massive interest, people were buying both as individuals and commercially for hotels and bars,” said antiques dealer and co-organiser Niall Mullen.


“Other corporate entities could have chosen to dump these materials during Covid but thankfully, the quality was recognised and they can be used again, which is great from an environmental point of view. It is brilliant that people are willing to give things a second chance.”

Dozens of other lots in the two-day online auction came from private collections.

The largest price paid for a single item was €5,200 for a John Morris painting of the Shelbourne Hotel, which had an initial guide price of €1,000 to €2,000.

The original ticket booth from Dublin’s Ambassador cinema went for €1,600, while a buyer from Boston had the final bid on an American barber’s chair from the old Reads Cutlers shop for €1,650, having guided at €400 to €800.

A Graham Knuttel work – Cocktail Girl – reached €4,400, while a life-size bronze sculpture of a hunting hare went for €1,250.

Several lots from the former Buck Whaley’s nightclub and Larry Murphy’s bar in the capital also sold.

A pair of Tara Crystal chandeliers, removed from a house in Dublin’s Sandycove, fetched €2,500, while a Theodore Alexander-made desk from Harrods in London made €2,600.

“Auctioneer Aidan Foley was impressed by such strong bidding in mid-January and to have been able to give these items new homes was a testament to their quality,” said Mr Mullen. “At its height, 400 people were bidding for these lots online.

“Antiques dealers and auctioneers sometimes look at things and think they might not sell, but there was a set of 1970s stools from Glenlo Abbey which made €800 – they are so retro, they are relevant again.”

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson is an Irish Times reporter