The Irish Times explains how fears and rumors about the Bank of Ireland’s art sale set for today. Adams, the auction house, has had so much interest in the sale, they moved the location to a nearby hotel. But that was hardly the biggest obstacle. When it as announced that the Bank of Ireland would sell its art collection, many assume the works were of greater value:
calls for the entire collection to be taken over by the State seem to have been based on the presumption that the State would want it (evidently not) and that all the works of art are important for the national cultural patrimony (apparently not).
Earlier this month, Bank of Ireland allowed the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) to peruse the collection and take the pick of the crop. These works have now been donated to IMMA and, according to the Minister for Culture, Mary Hanafin, will “be available for public viewing and future exhibitions”.
As a consequence, nine works (five paintings and four pieces of sculpture) which were scheduled for sale next Wednesday have been withdrawn. Ironically, among them is a piece of sculpture, Green Lines by Alexandra Wejchert, used to illustrate the cover of the glossy €20 auction catalogue which may now become a collector’s item in its own right.
A tenth work, a painting by Robert Ballagh, has also been withdrawn. Although not saved for the nation by the what the minister described as the experts at IMMA, the Bank has received representations from the artist and, according to a spokeswoman, needs time to consider its fate.
Controversy aside, the bank’s collection now faces the ultimate test – in the court of public opinion and the dreaded markets.
Of the 145 pieces due to go under the hammer, some have estimates in the tens-of-thousands of euro range including paintings by Basil Blackshaw, Gerard Dillon, Paul Henry, Seán Keating, Louis Le Brocquy and Tony O’Malley.
Bank’s Art Collection Face the Market Next Week (Irish Times)