Irish artist Gerard Byrne ordered to pay special edition print debt
Artist had been told prints would ‘fly out the doors’ of galleries
Works by leading Irish artist Gerard Byrne adorn the walls of Irish Embassies around the world. Photograph: David Sleator
Leading Irish artist Gerard Byrne was told by a judge today to pay an arts publisher an eight-year-old debt of €18,387 for the printing of more than 300 special edition prints of some of his paintings.
Byrne (56) of Eagle Terrace, Sorrento Road, Dalkey, whose works adorn the walls of Irish Embassies around the world, had denied in the Circuit Civil Court that he owed the money to Stoney Road Press, Stoney Road, Dublin 3.
Barrister Vincent Nolan, counsel for the publishing company, told Judge Jacqueline Linnane that Mr Byrne had agreed to pay Stoney Road Press for 330 prints of 11 of his works that had been printed in 2006 just before the country’s economic collapse.
Stoney Road Press director David O’Donoghue said Mr Byrne had made the agreement in October 2005 for the production of 30 prints of each of 11 specified artworks, a total of 330.
He said the work included the scanning, proofing, editing and materials used in the production and Mr Byrne had agreed to pay the company €60 plus VAT for each of the prints, a total of €22,473.
The prints were to be released to Byrne in batches of not less than 30.
Mr O’Donoghue said 60 of the prints had been sold to the Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin, by Dalkey Arts, and his company had been paid just over €4,000.
He told Mr Nolan that in 2008 another 60 of the prints for which the company had not been paid had been provided to Mr Byrne.
In March 2006 the company invoiced Byrne for just over €22,000 and €18,387 remained unpaid.
Mr O’Donoghue said the company had retained possession of 210 signed copies pending payment.
Byrne said he had no firm recollection of receiving a demand for payment from Gartlan Winters, solicitors for Stoney Road Press, as the letter had been addressed to Sorrento Road and not Eagle Terrace, Sorrento Road.
He told the court he had been approached by O’Donoghue about producing the prints which he had been assured at the time would “fly out the doors” of art galleries.
Sale of the prints had never taken off because of the recession which had seen the closure of a number of art galleries.
Byrne said he would never have agreed to write a cheque for more than €20,000 for prints which he did not even have room to store because he was between homes at the time.
He claimed that as the product was sold the money was to be used to pay off production costs.
“I was assured they would sell and I was pressurised into signing them. I was shocked when I walked into a room and saw hundreds of prints. There were four or five people standing around with sharpened pencils so I signed them,” Byrne told the court.
Judge Linnane said she was satisfied there was an agreement as claimed by Mr O’Donoghue on behalf of the company.
“I don’t accept the contention that it was only when the prints were sold that a liability to pay would arise,” she said.
“I prefer the evidence of Mr O’Donoghue and I award Stoney Road Press a decree for €18,387 together with its legal costs.”