Anglo Irish Bank’s modest art collection sold in Dublin

Strong demand for the surprisingly humble collection

The torturous legacy of Anglo Irish Bank produced a rare good-news story this week. The former bank's surprisingly modest art collection was auctioned by Adam's in Dublin on Tuesday on the instructions of the liquidator. It sold for a total of €281,000, almost double the minimum estimate.

All but eight lots among the 134 paintings, prints, sculpture and photographs that went under the hammer found buyers.

The highest price was achieved for a painting, Basket and Vessels by Stephen McKenna, which made €17,000, well above the estimate of €8,000-€12,000. A set of six paintings by Pauline Bewick depicting Irish wildlife, each estimated at €3,000-€5,000 and offered individually, all sold. These included The Irish Salmon (€12,000) and The Irish Swan, (€9,000). A selection of prints by Sean Scully, each estimated at €1,500-€2,500, sold for well above the estimate with the top price achieved for Raval No 1, which made €6,600.

Other lots included Shoreline by Felim Egan, €6,700 (€3,000-€5,000); His Land by Martin Gale, €6,500 (€5,000- €8,000); Spring – An t-Earrach by Tony O'Malley, €5,000 (€5,000-€8,000); A Flight of Birds (bronze sculpture) by John Behan, €3,600 (€2,000 -€3,000) and Cork Offices of Anglo Irish Bank by Kevin Sanquest, €200 (€200-€300).

Sporting themes
A framed photograph of Paul O'Connell playing for Munster in the 2006 Heineken Cup semi-final, and signed by him, made €300 (€100-€150).


Two GAA-themed oil paintings by Nora Kelly also attracted much interest. GAA Football Team of the Century 1884-1984 made €2,200 (€500-€800). The GAA Hurling Team of the Century 1884-1984 made €2,200 (€500-€800).

Adam’s managing director, James O’Halloran, said the sale proved “collections with interesting provenance are very much sought after by Irish collectors.”

The sale effectively ends the role of Irish banks as major players in the art market.

Although Anglo’s collection was not especially significant, Irish banks have, for decades, been important buyers of art.

AIB has donated its corporate collection to the State and it will form part of the collection of the Crawford Art Gallery in Cork. Bank of Ireland has auctioned off much of its collection.

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