Artworks to be returned to Seán Dunne’s wife and son

Pieces, at centre of bankruptcy row, seized during raid on house in Co Kildare last year

The wife and son of bankrupt developer Seán Dunne are to have two works of art, including a painting entitled ‘King and Queen’, seized during a raid on a house in Co Kildare returned to them, the High Court has heard.

The wife and son of bankrupt developer Seán Dunne are to have two works of art, including a painting entitled ‘King and Queen’, seized during a raid on a house in Co Kildare returned to them, the High Court has heard.

 

The wife and son of bankrupt developer Seán Dunne are to have two works of art seized during a raid on a house in Co Kildare returned to them, the High Court has heard.

The items, including a painting entitled ‘King and Queen’, had been at the centre of a dispute between members of the Dunne family and the trustee administering Seán Dunne’s Irish bankruptcy.

That dispute arose after the house at Churchfield, Straffan, was searched in November 2013 on foot of a warrant obtained by official assignee Chris Lehane, the trustee administering Mr Dunne’s bankruptcy in Ireland. Various iterms including the two artworks were seized by Mr Lehane’s staff.

The warrant was sought under Section 28 of the Bankruptcy Act, which allows for a search and seizure warrant to be issued where the Official Assignee has reason to believe property of a bankrupt may be located in a house or other property which may not be owned by the bankrupt themselves.

Gayle Dunne, wife of Seán Dunne, and his son John later applied to the court for return of the artworks, arguing they belonged to them and the official assignee had no entitlement to them.

Counsel for Mr Lehane had previously said he had no interest in any items that did not form part of Sean Dunne’s estate.

Gayle Dunne had claimed she is the owner the ‘King and Queen’ painting by artist Daniel O’Neill. It was bought at auction in late 2011 for some €32,000.

John Dunne said he owned a seized modern art work which had been gifted to him on his 21st birthday by a friend, Justin KIlduff.

Mr Justice Brian McGovern was today told by Gabriel Gavigan SC, for Gayle and John Dunne that issues concerning the ownership of the art had been resolved and the artworks were to be returned to the Dunnes. The judge adjourned the issue of liability for the legal costs of the motion to later.

Sean Dunne has been declared a bankrupt in Ireland and the US where he now lives. He has argued he is not the owner of the Straffan property and it is held in trust for his children by an Isle of Man registered company called Traviata.

The High Court previously dismissed Mr Dunne’s application to quash the warrant obtained by Mr Lehane and that refusal has been appealed to the Supreme Court.