Alleged ‘forgeries’ withdrawn from Dublin art auction

Paintings had been consigned to sale by the heirs of the late Mervyn Solomon

Seventeen paintings were withdrawn from an art auction in Dublin on Tuesday evening following allegations that some of them were forgeries.

Belfast-based auctioneers Gormleys withdrew the paintings from the sale at the Radisson St Helen's Hotel in Stillorgan after being contacted by a Dublin private art dealer, Dominic Milmo-Penny, who has claimed that "forgeries are widespread" in the Irish art market.

Mr Milmo-Penny, of Milmo Fine Art Ltd, said he recognised a painting as a fake from an advertisement for the auction in The Irish Times last Saturday.

The painting featured in the advert, titled Women Washing Clothes in a Canal by Irish artist Walter Frederick Osborne, had an estimate of €20,000-€30,000.


Mr Milmo-Penny said he was “shocked”. He contacted Gormleys to express his concern about the painting and other lots in the auction by artists Roderic O’Conor and Aloysius O’Kelly.

Auctioneer Oliver Gormley said he was also "shocked" and decided to withdraw the paintings from the auction.

The paintings had been consigned to sale by the heirs of the late Mervyn Solomon, a well-known Belfast art collector. Mr Gormley said yesterday he had contacted the vendors who said they "had no idea at all" that the paintings might not be authentic. He said the family was now "getting an expert to check them all".

Formal complaint
Mr Milmo-Penny said he had been concerned about forgeries in the Irish art market since 1980, and is planning to lodge a formal complaint about the lack of regulation in the fine art auctioneering sector to the Property Services Regulatory Authority.

He said the art market was subject to “light-touch regulation by a poodle with no teeth when we need a Rottweiler”.

Michael Parsons

Michael Parsons

Michael Parsons is a contributor to The Irish Times writing about fine art and antiques