Ten weird and wonderful lots that sold at auction in 2016
From Roger Casement’s Kerry treasure map to Queen Victoria’s split drawers
Cartoon of banker Seán FitzPatrick as a racing driver by David Rooney, which sold for €3,000
‘Some Characters Seen at Cheltenham on Gold Cup Day’ by Waldron West, which sold for €13,000
Unused roll of toilet paper as issued to Germany’s Wehrmacht, which sold for €290
A male nude by Francis Bacon discovered on the reverse of two paintings by Tony O’Malley, which sold for £435,000
1 On St Patrick’s Day at Christie’s in London £435,000 (€554,000) was paid for a pair of paintings by the late Irish artist Tony O’Malley which – when reversed and joined up – revealed a lost, unfinished painting of a male nude by Francis Bacon.
2 A waxwork sculpture of Hitler entitled Him by Italian artist Maurizo Cattelan sold – after five minutes of bidding – for $17.2 million at Christie’s in New York in May.
3 Kerry County Museum paid €10,600 for a Treasure Island-style map drawn by Sir Roger Casement to show where he had buried gold and other valuables after landing at Banna Strand on Good Friday 1916. The map appeared at auction in Chorley’s Auctioneers in Cheltenham.
4 The original artwork for an Irish Times cartoon of former Anglo Irish Bank chairman Seán FitzPatrick as a Formula One racing driver – Pole Position by artist David Rooney – sold for €3,000 at Sheppard’s in March.
5 A 1973 Mercedes-Benz 350 SL Roadster, originally owned by Romania’s late dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu, was sold by an unnamed Northern Ireland vendor for €49,450 at Bonhams auction in Stuttgart in March, with the proceeds donated to Casa Bridget, an Irish-run residential care home for special-needs orphans in the eastern Romanian village of Nicoresti.
6 An unused roll of Edelweiss brand Klosettpapier (toilet paper) as issued to the Wehrmacht (the defence forces of the German Third Reich), estimated at €80-€120, achieved a hammer price of €290 at Whyte’s “The Eclectic Collector” auction in Dublin in September.
7 The “sleeper” of the year was an engraving of an 18th-century French painting that sold for €60,000 – 60 times the median estimate – at Sheppard’s in September. Catalogued as “After Jean-Baptiste Greuze (French, 1725-1805), eighteenth-century Portrait of a Young Scribe” – it was bought by a telephone bidder in Paris.
8 A unique painting of Irish and English “characters” at Cheltenham racecourse in 1950 sold at auction in February for €13,000 at Lynes & Lynes Auctioneers, Carrrigtwohill, Co Cork. Some Characters Seen at Cheltenham on Gold Cup Day by the English artist Waldron West had formerly hung in the Cashel Palace Hotel and was sold after the hotel closed down.
9 A 1920s diamond aigrette tiara headdress adorned with a still-intact crest of white egret’s feathers, made by Collingwood & Co of 46 Conduit Street, London, sold in July at John Weldon Auctioneers in Dublin’s Temple Bar for €3,500.
10 And finally, to borrow a phrase, the oddest lot to go under the hammer in 2016 was at Christie’s in London in September, when A Pair of Queen Victoria’s split drawers catalogued as “Fine linen drawers with draw-string waist, embroidered ‘VR 36’ beneath a crown” sold for the staggering sum of £16,250, against a top estimate of £3,000. Should one be simply not amused or quite appalled?