Hotelier Louis Fitzgerald pays €37k for portraits of 13 taoisigh
Record week for Irish art and collectibles with over 8,000 lots auctioned
Niall Mullen, antiques dealer, carries a portrait of former taoiseach Brian Cowen at the Heritage Hotel in Killenard, Co. Laois. The suite of portraits of all the 13 former taoisigh sold for €37,000. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien
One of the busiest weeks ever in Irish salerooms saw a flurry of auctions at locations throughout the country with over 8,000 lots going under the hammer.
While there were no record prices, there was strong demand and over 6,000 lots were sold.
The top lot of the week was a suite of portraits of all the former taoisigh which sold for €37,000 (within the estimate of €30,000-€40,000) at the big two-day interiors auction run by Victor Mee Auctions in the Heritage Hotel, Killenard, in Portarlington, Co Laois on Monday and Tuesday (March 12th & 13th).
The paintings, Lot 2495, were sold by Dublin businessman Peter Dwan who said afterwards he was “absolutely charmed” by the result. The buyer, it subsequently emerged, was Dublin hotelier Louis Fitzgerald and the paintings are to be hung in the Arlington Hotel on O’Connell Bridge..
The large oil paintings, framed to museum standard, depict all of Ireland’s former government leaders from the first, WT Cosgrave, to the most recent, Enda Kenny. They had been consigned to the auction as the work of “J.W” – the initials for ‘Johnny Wilson’ - but that proved to be a pseudonym for Chinese artist Zhang Yi who had come to Ireland to study English and art in 2006.
Mr Dwan, who had commissioned the paintings, said the artist now lives in San Francisco and is willing to paint a similar portrait of the current Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, to complete the series.
Over 3,400 lots went under the hammer in the auction, organised by Dublin antiques dealer Niall Mullen who said 90 per cent of lots had sold including furniture, bar counters, light fittings, glassware and art from the former private dining club, ‘Residence’ on St Stephen’s Green, the former nightclub ‘Howl at the Moon’; furniture, chandeliers and curtains from the Shelbourne Hotel following the venue’s most recent refurbishment; and memorabilia from the former department store, Clery’s.
A pair of Game of Thrones-style bronze doors from ‘Howl at the Moon’ made €12,500, four times the top estimate (€2,000-€3,000) and were bought by an unnamed buyer for a planned venue in Kilkenny. .
A cheque written by businessman Denis Guiney when he bought Clery’s out of receivership in 1941 sold for € 2,800 – almost double the top estimate of €1,500.
But the most unusual bid in the auction was made by businessman Mike Hogan who bought a collectible U2 record (Lot 955, All I Want Is You with a label ‘Limited Edition 0007’) for €120 (estimate €60-€80).
At the time he was on board a flight from Dublin to New York and “39,000 feet above the Atlantic and travelling at 537 miles per hour”. He availed of the Aer Lingus on-board Wi-Fi in what is believed to be the first ever bid in an Irish auction from a flight. Mr Hogan, who described his bid as “Wi-Fi in the Sky” was known for his 1980s Dublin traffic reports, ‘Eye in the Sky’ broadcast from a helicopter on the pirate radio station Q102.
For more results see victormeeauctions.ie
At Mealy’s auction on Tuesday (March 13th), 80 per cent of the 700 lots sold led by Lot 139, a large Chinese blue-and-white bottle vase, decorated with images of pomegranates hanging from trees, and flying bats, that made € 10,000 (estimate €10,000-€15,000); and, Lot 224, a white marble head-and-shoulders bust of 19th century Limerick-born soprano Catherine Hayes by sculptor Richard Barter that made €3,200 (€3,000-€4,000).
But, Lot 144, a Chinese rhinoceros horn carving of a figurine (the horn of an extinct, Ice Age mammal , the ‘wooly rhino’, estimated to be 25,000 years old; the carved figurine from the 15th century) failed to sell when bidding stalled at €15,000 – below the low estimate (€20,000-€30,000).
For more results, see mealys.ie
Among other auctions, last weekend Damien Matthews held an on-the-premises house clearance in Ashbrook, Ballyjamesduff, Co. Cavan (Saturday & Sunday, March 10th & 11th) and sold 93 per cent of the 1,700 lots.
Lynes & Lynes auctioneers in Carrigtwohill, Co Cork had “an extremely busy auction” last Sunday (March 11th) when 98 per cent of the almost 500 lots sold – including the contents of Charleston House, Midleton – home of the late Senator Trevor West, a former professor of mathematics at Trinity College Dublin.
The top price was achieved for Lot 150, a set of eight Georgian mahogany Cork 11-bar dining chairs that made €5,200 – within the estimate (€4,000-€6000).
On Monday (March 12th), Mullen’s Auctioneers, Laurel Park, Bray, Co Wicklow held two separate auctions with a total of 1,000 lots and achieved a sold rate of 70 per cent.
The top price was achieved for Lot 309, a 20th century Chinese painting on porcelain ‘Female in a Landscape with Moon’ by Tai Wing Wah that made €18,000 – three times the top estimate of €4,000-€6,000. Lot 320, a 19th century Chinese black lacquered and gilded wooden screen made €2,600 (€2,000-€3,000).
Also, on Monday (March 12th) R.J.Keighery’s City Auction Rooms in Waterford sold 86 per cent of 700 lots offered; and Morgan O Driscoll Auctioneers in Skibbereen, Co Cork sold 91 per cent of lots in an online art auction.
But there was less activity than usual at John Weldon Auctioneers monthly sale of jewellery and silver in Temple Bar, Dublin on Tuesday (March 13th) where 54 per cent of 300 lots sold.
At Sheppard’s two-day ‘Classical Convergences’ auction in Durrow, Co Laois on Tuesday & Wednesday (March 13th & 14th) 81 per cent of the 1,245 lots sold.
Among the art, Lot 19, a Portrait of Jane Seymour (c.1508-1537) the third wife of King Henry VIII by an unknown artist described as a ‘Follower of Hans Holbein The Younger (German/Swiss, 1497-1543) sold for €3,600 below the estimate (€5,000-€8,000).
But Lot 4, The Colleen Bawn a large, oil-on-canvas by 19th century English artist Samuel Barry Godbold estimated at €3,500-€4,500, failed to sell. The top price was achieved for Lot 650, an 18ct white gold and diamond (27.69 ct) necklace with a centre diamond of 2.73 ct that made €38,000 within the estimate (€35,000-€45,000).