Tony Ryan's art goes to auction


Collectors from around the world are expected at Christie’s sale of art and antiques owned by the late Tony Ryan

RYANAIR co-founder Tony Ryan – who was one of Ireland’s wealthiest men – died in 2007 shortly after completing the lavish restoration of Lyons Demesne, an estate near Celbridge in Co Kildare.

He had filled the house with what was believed to be the country’s most important private collection of art and antiques bought from dealers and auctioneers worldwide.

Some 450 pieces from the collection will be sold at Christie’s in London next Thursday in what is likely to be the first in a series of auctions. The international fine art auctioneers said the sale would provide “a rare glimpse into a private Irish treasure trove” but stressed that the auction would feature just a relatively small selection of works from the total Ryan collection, understood to number more than 2,000 pieces.

A spokeswoman for the Ryan family said the reason for the auction was that none of the family could enjoy the collection as they do not live in the house. Lyons Demesne is currently unoccupied and for sale with an asking price of €50 million.

The auction of paintings, sculpture, furniture and tapestries and collectibles is expected to realise in excess of £2 million. (€2.23 million).

Estimates for individual lots range from £300-£300,000 (€336-€336,000).

The highest estimate has been assigned to a full-length Portrait of Arthur Hill, 2nd Marquess of Downshire(1753-1801), a privy councillor of England and Ireland, whose seat was Hillsborough Castle, Co Down. It could make £200,000-£300,000 (€224,000-€336,000

Ryan paid £377,750 (€422,739) for this painting, by Irish artist Hugh Douglas Hamilton, at Christie’s in November 2000. Another portrait, of Mrs Thomas Edwards Freemanby Sir Joshua Reynolds, bought for £140,000 (€156,704) at Sotheby’s in November 1999, now has an estimate of just £50,000-£80,000 (€56,000-€90,000).

Other art highlights include Powerscourt Waterfall, County Wicklowby 18th Century Irish landscape artist Thomas Roberts, estimate £40,000-£60,000 (€45,000-€67,000) and two sketches by Sir John Lavery of designs for ladies’ costumes from the 1947 film Monsieur Verdoux which featured Charlie Chaplin – each with estimates of £600-£900. (€670-€1,000)

The top lot of furniture is a pair of George III giltwood and painted satinwood console tables in the manner of Thomas Chippendale the Younger, (£50,000-£80,000 /€56,000-€90,000).

A Louis XV Gobelins tapestry, by Claude Audran, depicts Sancho’s feast from Don Quixote, (£30,000-£50,000 /€34,000-€56,000).

A white marble sculpture La Revelacion de Amor(Love Awakened) by Giovanni Battista Lombardi, Rome, circa 1870 is estimated at £30,000-50,000. (€34,000-€56,000).

Most items reflect classic British and European aristocratic taste – which is also favoured by contemporary oligarchs – and are of a style to be found in the homes of the super-rich everywhere. But amidst the portraits of toffs, Italian marble-topped tables and ornate French clocks is an incongruous little bronze sculpture suggesting that Ryan hadn’t quite forgotten his Tipperary roots. Gaelic Footballersby Oisín Kelly is among one of the more affordable items with an estimate of £1,200-1,800 (€1,300-€2,000).

* Christie’s, King Street, London. Auction, Lyons Demesne: Works of Art from the Collection of the late Dr Tony Ryan, Thursday, July 14th at 10.30am. Viewing begins in London tomorrow afternoon.