International buyers snap up best lots


MEALY’S SAID 1,000 bidders registered for its two-day Spring Fine and Decorative Art Sale in Co Kilkenny earlier this week – the highest number of bidders the firm has ever had for an auction.

Over 1,300 lots went under the hammer and 70 per cent sold. Afterwards, auctioneer George Gerard Mealy said: “although the market for high-value items is incredibly strong, the majority of buyers were overseas bidders via telephone and internet, with the best items leaving the country”. Half of all bids were made online – confirming the increasing importance of the internet for Irish auctioneers.

The top lot was a William IV–period specimen marble-top table which sparked a bidding battle among six bidders. The starting bid was €1,500 and it eventually sold for €22,000 – over seven times the highest estimate (€2,000–€3,000). But the biggest surprise was the price paid for an 18th century oval profile portrait, carved in ivory, of an unidentified pope wearing a triple tiara (triregnum). The little gold-framed panel measuring just 2.5 by 1.5 inches had a pre-sale estimate of €250-€350. It sold for €4,000.

An unusual Georgian trumeau mirror (a frame containing both a mirror and a painting) sold for €20,000 (€20,000-€30,000). An Irish silver pear-shaped coffee pot, dating from about 1750, made made €4,800 (estimate €4,500 - €6,000). A 19th century carved Chinese hardwood display cabinet made €3,000 (estimate €1,200-€1,500).

However, a Victorian painting The Grandfather at the Grave of Little Nell by Herbert Thomas Dicksee (estimate €5,000-€7,000) and a spectacular Donegal carpet estimated at €15,000-€25,000 were among the casualties. - MP