Banksy at the RHA: don’t expect a shredder

Monkey print on show with Warhols and a stunning Louis le Brocquy tapestry

Banksy, Laugh

Banksy, Laugh


One of the top lots at Morgan O’Driscoll’s sale of Irish & international art at the Royal Hibernian Academy in Dublin next week is a black-and-white stencilled screenprint of a depressed-looking monkey, its heavy shoulders encircled in a placard which declares: “Laugh now, but one day we’ll be in charge”.  

It is, of course, a Banksy. In fact, along with his signature rats, this monkey is one of the enigmatic artist’s most recognisable images.

But after all the hoo-ha about the picture which shredded itself in spectacular fashion during an auction at Sotheby’s in London last month, is it a bit of a worry for an art auctioneer, selling a Banksy?  

“We checked the back of the frame pretty thoroughly and you couldn’t put so much as a hair in there,” Morgan O’Driscoll says. “We’re actually a bit disappointed in a way. If there was a shredder built in, it would probably be worth five times as much.”

Andy Warhol soup can at Morgan O'Driscoll
Andy Warhol soup can at Morgan O'Driscoll

The Banksy, Lot 43, carries a pre-sale estimate of €30,000–€40,000. Also in the sale are some of Andy Warhol’s most iconic screenprints: Lots 44, 45 and 46 (€20,000–€30,000 each) are soup cans in Golden Mushroom, Tomato/Beef Noodle and Scotch Broth flavours, while Lot 47 (€20,000–€30,000) is The Nun, from Ingrid Bergman 1983. 

 And while the Banksy monkey may grab all the headlines, the truly jaw-dropping work in the sale is a mammoth tapestry by Louis le Brocquy. Entitled Cavanagh (Lot 53, €100,000–€150,000), the wall hanging, which was made by Atelier Tabard at Aubussonand measures more than 12 feet square. It appears to float in space, shimmering with subtle luminosity as the painter’s series of  “major and minor” woven colour chords shine through an army of rugged Tain warrior heads.

Louis le Brocquy tapestry at Morgan O'Driscoll
Louis le Brocquy tapestry at Morgan O'Driscoll

The auction, which will be viewing in London before arriving in Dublin next week, features works by many of the biggest names in Irish art. Lot 18 (€50,000–€70,000) is Paul Henry’s Waterville, Co Kerry, a late work which portrays the town sandwiched between a tumble of clouds and water. 

Lot 19 (€60,000–€80,000) is Sir John Lavery’s romantic late-summer portrait of Glendalough; Lot 110 (€5,000–€7,000) is John Doherty’s photorealist Steadfast.  There are also works by Jack B Yeats, Colin Middleton, Basil Blackshaw, Norah McGuinness and Gerard Dillon.

Morgan O’Driscoll, 1 Ilen Street, Skibbereen, Co Cork. Irish & International Art, Royal Hibernian Academy, 15 Ely Place, Dublin 2, Monday,  November 12th, 6pm.

Solid investment

Watch out for more Warhol at the Art Source contemporary art fair the RDS next weekend. Gormley’s Fine Art will be showing “a million-Euro wall of Pop Art” which will include all four Ingrid Bergman prints and a rare Warhol screenprint of Beethoven as well as works by Roy Lichtenstein, Tom Wesselmann, Robert Indiana and Jean-Michel Basquiat. 

“The Pop Art market is very strong and Warhol’s pieces have increased in value by an average of five to 10 per cent per year over the last 30 years,” says Gerard Gormley. “This blue-chip group has proven to be a solid investment, and people are confident that they will continue to increase in value.”

Andy Warhol Beethoven screenprint, being shown by Gormleys's Fine Art at the RDS
Andy Warhol Beethoven screenprint, being shown by Gormleys's Fine Art at the RDS

Also featured at Art Source is the Irish Pop artist Cavanagh Foyle, an aviation lawyer who is gaining an international following for her provocative and colourful mixed-media paintings. That’s alongside the fair’s now-traditional “100 for €100” original artwork project, with pieces available on a first-come, first-served basis.

RDS, Art Source, Friday November 9th 11am to 9pm, Saturday November 10th, 10am to 6pm, and Sunday November 11th, 10am to 6pm.  Admission €10.

Nostalgic features 

Christmas may be on the way, but there’s a memory of summer at Victor Mee Auctions this week as a rare 19th-century carousel, complete with 12 hand-painted wooden horses, comes under the hammer (Lot 393, €8,000–€16,000). 

Commissioned by the Farrells, a carnival family from Buncrana, Co Donegal, in the late 19th century, this rare piece was used until the arrival of electric carousels in the 1940s.

“Items as exquisite as this are not put forward to public auctions very often,” says Victor Mee.

“When these carousels became obsolete, many were disassembled and scattered piece by piece, whilst other families held on tight to the nostalgic features _ once the centre of a carnival – like rare treasures. We are delighted to have the opportunity to find a new home for this iconic piece.”

The two-day sale comprises more than 200 lots of ecclesiastic items and relics, as well as the pub memorabilia for which the Cavan auction house has become well known. 

Diamond-set cufflinks (€3,300–€3,800) at John Weldon
Diamond-set cufflinks (€3,300–€3,800) at John Weldon

Among the unusual collectibles for sale at John Weldon’s auction of Fine Jewellery & Silver on Tuesday, November 6th are a Black and Tan medal which purportedly belonged to James Redmond E Company 2nd Battalion Dublin Brigade Irish Volunteers (€300–€500) and a collection of Chinese carved mother-of-pearl gaming tokens, 118 in total, each with a different scene on the front and back  (€1,800–€2,400). 

Other highlights include a pair of diamond-set cufflinks (€3,300–€3,800) and a Gent’s Breitling Blackbird watch with box and papers (€2,800–€3,200).