A painting by Lord of the Dance star Michael Flatley sold at auction in Sheppard's Art Auction on Thursday night for €22,500.
The painting, titled ‘Rossmore Island’ - an abstract depiction inspired by an island in Kenmare Bay, Co Kerry - went under the hammer in the saleroom at Durrow, Co Laois in an art auction that was broadcast online.
The painting had been assigned a pre-auction estimate of €20,000 to €30,000. Bidding opened at €10,000 and jumped quickly before the hammer came down. Five bidders competed to buy the painting - in the saleroom, online and by telephone.
The auctioneers said the winning bid had come from an unnamed Irish buyer. When auction fees are added to the hammer price, the final cost to the buyer will be €26,800.
Mr Flatley, who did not attend the sale, spoke to The Irish Times by telephone from London after the auction and was “delighted with the result” and hoped the new owner would “enjoy the painting” which he was “crazy about”.
Sheppard’s had described the painting as a work that “successfully pushes the boundaries of contemporary art”.
The painting, which measures 106 by 104 cm, had been ‘tap-danced’ onto the canvas. Last year, Mr Flatley announced his intention to pursue a new career as a visual artist. He paints in a studio at his Castlehyde estate in Co Cork where he does not use a brush but instead dances on paint-spattered canvases to create the images.
Mr Flatley has already completed a couple of dozen paintings which have been framed in London using wood from fallen trees at Castlehyde on the River Balckwater. He said that he had not yet decided when or where he would sell more of his paintings.
Mr Flatley, the original star of Riverdance and Lord of the Dance is expected to appear on stage in Dublin for the last time in March 2015 when his latest show Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games plays at the 3Arena.
This was not the first sale of his art. He had previously sold two paintings in charity auctions but last night’s sale was the first without the safety net of philanthropy.
Mr Flatley said the theme of his completed series of paintings was the Irish Great Famine and that Rossmore Island was inspired by his vision of "the plagued and tortured islanders" being forced, by hunger to emigrate.
Mr Flatley has already donated a painting from the series to the Irish State which was on display in the Taoiseach’s office last year.