State buys Yeats painting seized from Quinlan


THE STATE has acquired a second painting from the multi-million euro art collection of disgraced property speculator Derek Quinlan which was seized by the National Asset Management Agency (Nama).

The National Gallery of Ireland has confirmed it paid €175,000 to the agency for a painting titled National Airs/Patriotic Airs by Jack B Yeats. The oil on canvas, which measures 18 x 14 inches (35.5 x 46cm), dates from 1923 and depicts a conductor in Dublin’s Gaiety Theatre leading the audience in a medley of patriotic songs. A spokeswoman for the gallery said the painting would go on public view this summer.

The painting was originally owned by the late Terence de Vere White, a former literary editor of The Irish Times who was a friend of the artist and is believed to have paid just a few hundred pounds for the picture. He subsequently sold it, more than 40 years ago, for a few thousand pounds to an American collector and it was shipped to the United States.

About four years ago, the painting was offered for resale through a dealer in London and was bought privately by Mr Quinlan for an undisclosed sum.

It is understood Nama seized at least a dozen paintings from Mr Quinlan, a former resident of Shrewsbury Road in Dublin 4, who left Ireland in 2009 with debts of hundreds of millions of euro.

In May, the agency gave the National Gallery “a gift” of one of the paintings – Return from Market by Sir John Lavery – which had been valued at €300,000. Nama said it had made the donation “as a goodwill gesture” to the gallery and to the Irish people.

The gallery, the Irish Museum of Modern Art and the Office of Public Works were offered the right of “first refusal” to purchase other paintings. The National Gallery said the Yeats painting was offered to it “at market value, and that market value was assessed independently by Nama. A price of €175,000 was agreed.”

Ray Gordon, a spokesman for Nama, said the money would be used to “offset outstanding loans owed to the agency by the relevant debtor”. He did not name Mr Quinlan and said the agency “can’t discuss the details of any individual debtor”.

The remainder of Mr  Quinlan’s collection is in “secure storage”. Mr Gordon said Nama would offer some of these paintings “through the international art market auctions in the coming months”.