Concern over upkeep of late businessman’s valuable art collection

Hugh James Tunney’s estate seeks possession of works by artists such as Lavery, Yeats

Concerns over the upkeep of valuable art works and other valuable items acquired by the since deceased businessman Hugh James Tunney have lead to High Court proceedings.  Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times.

Concerns over the upkeep of valuable art works and other valuable items acquired by the since deceased businessman Hugh James Tunney have lead to High Court proceedings. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times.

 

Concerns over the upkeep of valuable art works and other valuable items acquired by the since deceased businessman Hugh James Tunney have lead to High Court proceedings.

Mr Tunney, who was from Co Tyrone and was involved in the beef sector, died in 2011. The proceedings have been brought by solicitor Brian Baily, as executor of Mr Tunney’s estate, and by Tunney Estates, the beneficial owner of the artworks and valuables and the property where they are kept. The proerty cannot be identifed by court order.

Mr Baily is also a director of Tunney Estates, created for the benefit of Mr Tunney’s four children. The proceedings are against Caroline Devine, who claims she was Mr Tunney’s partner for many years.

Following his death, Ms Devine was given certain rights in relation to part of Mr Tunney’s estate. In their action, the plaintiffs claim very valuable items, which Ms Devine allegedly has control over, are at risk due to the alleged damp condition of the property where they are kept. The items are also at risk from theft, it is feared.

Obstructed

The estate claims, over the years, it has been obstructed by and not been given unfettered access to the items by Ms Devine. They are seeking injunctions for possession of several valuable paintings including works by Jack B Yeats, John Lavery, Roderick O’Connor and August Von Heckel.

They also wants orders preventing Ms Devine carrying out works at the property where the items are located without their consent.

In the main proceedings against Ms Devine, the defendants also seek orders seeking possession of the property where the artworks are located. The High Court previously granted the applicants permission to serve short notice of the injunction proceedings on Ms Devine.

When the matter came before Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds this week, the action was further adjourned after lawyers for Ms Devine offered various undertakings to the court.

The judge urged the parties to consider mediating the dispute before adjourning the matter for mention later this month.