Reminds me of the advice of a famous English statesman “Invest in Old Masters, they bring a better return than old mistresses”:
The Irish Times - Saturday, June 4, 2011
Solvency not a problem for Irish art auction buyers
AN ENGLISH auctioneer has expressed amazement at the amount of money being spent on art in Ireland, following the sale of a painting, titled Insolvent, for €36,000 in Dublin this week. He had sold the painting nine weeks ago for a fraction of the price.
Clifford Lansberry of fine art auctioneers Gorringes in Sussex claimed the result “belies the fact that there is no money in Ireland”. “Somebody’s got it,” he said.
In March, the 150-year-old oil painting went under the hammer at his saleroom in Lewes and made £6,500 (€7,297). On Wednesday night though, the same painting was resold at Adam’s Sale of Important Irish Art for €36,000 – a fivefold increase.
When told about the result yesterday, Mr Lansberry was “amazed” and said: “Clearly there aren’t as many insolvent people in Ireland as we had been led to believe”. He had been under the impression the Irish art market was in difficulty because of the economic and fiscal crises here.
The painting dates from 1862 and was first exhibited at the Royal Academy in London the following year. It shows a man – clearly broke – desperately trying to get a drink of whiskey from a stern-faced landlady in an Irish shebeen. According to the catalogue note: “He is trying to get a drink, but clearly she is tired of him having insufficient funds.”
The artist was Scottish-born Erskine Nicol who moved to Ireland in the mid-19th century, set up a studio in Co Westmeath and specialised in painting scenes of misery in post-Famine Ireland.
Mr Lansberry said the painting had been sold by a private collector and had been bought by a “very canny” buyer who had, apparently, subsequently spotted a chance to resell it in Dublin.
Consigned for sale to Adam’s, it was assigned a new pre-sale estimate of €25,000-€35,000.
Bidders at the sale, where over €1 million was spent on art in two hours, were happy to talk to The Irish Times on condition of anonymity. One “medical professional” spent tens of thousands of euros on a painting, saying it was a good investment and better than putting the money into an AIB deposit account.
He feared that “the Government might raid savings accounts” as it had “already dipped into pensions”.