Information about Art, Antiques and Auctions in Ireland and around the world
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    Wednesday, November 14th, 2018

    The Pink Legacy

    THE Pink Legacy made $50,375,00 at Christie’s in Geneva last night.   The largest and finest fancy vivid pink diamond ever offered at auction by Christie’s weighs just under 19 carats.  The rectangular-cut gem was the top lot at Christie’s Magnificent Jewels auction at the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues in Geneva. From the Oppenheimer Family it had been estimated at US $30-50 million.  The auction achieved $110,214,250.

    (See post on for September  25,  2018)


    Tuesday, November 6th, 2018

    Property from the career of the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin will come under the hammer at Julien’s Auctions live and online sale from the Hard Rock Cafe in New York on November 10.  Over 30 stage worn dresses are to be sold along with accessories.

    Highlights with estimates from $800-$4,000 include a red with sequined interior dress designed by Arnold Scassi with a matching sequin romper worn on stage Sept 13, 1991 at Radio City music Hall; a St. John knit jacket worn Sept 29, 1999 at the National Medal of Arts Ceremony with President Clinton in Washington D.C.; a black Oleg Cassini dress worn at the ESSENCE Awards in 1993 with Lena Horne and Tina Turner; a denim jacket given only to the crew members of The Blues Brothers; a Judith Ann Plus dress worn in concert and on the cover of Jet magazine and a pink beaded bustier and pink skirt worn April 17, 1993 in the Duets Concert AIDS benefit for the Gay Men’s health crisis, that included artists and celebrities Clive Davis, Rod Stewart, Dustin Hoffman, Bonnie Raitt, Gloria Estefan, Barry Manilow, Smokey Robinson and Robert DeNiro.  Julien’s Icons and Idols Rock-N-Roll sale will be held on November 9 and 10.






    Tuesday, October 30th, 2018

    The Rolls Royce

    A 1930 Rolls-Royce which once belonged to UK Conservative Rab Butler, who served as Britain’s Deputy Prime Minister (1962-63), Home Secretary, Chancellor of the Exchequer and Foreign Minister sold for 46,000 at auction today in Co. Laois.  The 3.7 litre Rolls-Royce Continental Sports Saloon was originally built for Elizabeth Courtauld, heir to the industrial textile empire, before passing through her family in 1946 into the ownership of Butler, known as the father of the British educational system.

    He once remarked that the Civil Service, “is a bit like a Rolls-Royce – you know it’s the best machine in the world, but you’re not quite sure what to do with it.”

    The car was purchased in England in 1995 and the engine was rebuilt by Irish Rolls Royce specialist Jim Boland.  It has spent the past 23 years in an Irish shed and is in excellent condition. There was a number of classic cars, including a working 1940s Model T Ford with a Cork registration, which made 10,500. The carvery unit from the former Jurys Hotel, Ballsbridge, Dublin made 3,000 and a Tullamore whiskey mirror made 2,000.


    Thursday, October 4th, 2018

    The Macallan 1926 painted by Michael Dillon.  UPDATE: IT SOLD FOR £1.2 MILLION, A WORLD RECORD PRICE FOR A BOTTLE OF WHISKY.

    Hard on the heels of the sale of the most expensive bottle of whisky in the world  for £848,000 at Bonhams in Edinburgh this week  a unique bottle of 1926 Macallan painted by the Irish artist Michael Dillon will lead Christie’s sales of finest and rarest wines and spirits in London next November 28-29.

    The Macallan Valerio Adami 1926 60-year-old sold at Bonhams was in a vat for 60 years and then bottled,. It fetched £700,000 plus a £148,000 sales premium. Experts describe it as the holy grail of whiskies, because of the combination of its rarity, vintage and unique artwork. Another bottle of The Macallan Valerio Adami 1926 was sold at Bonhams Hong Kong in May this year for a then world record £814,081. Macallan commissioned pop artists Peter Blake and Valerio Adami to design labels for a limited edition of 24 bottles -12 Adami and 12 of Blake.

    The most collectable single malt of the 20th century at Christie’s,  The Macallan 1926 60-Year-Old, is presented in a unique bottle painted by the Irish artist Michael Dillon. The Macallan distillery located near the river Spey in North East Scotland was founded in 1824 and produces stunning examples of cask-matured single malts, particularly their highly prized and exceedingly rare single-cask, limited edition bottlings and Fine & Rare Collection. This is the only bottle of this ultra-rare elixir to be hand-painted by Irish artist Michael Dillon. Considered the ‘Holy Grail’ for collectors, it is poised to set a new world auction record for a bottle of whisky.

    Christie’s International Director of Wine, Tim Triptree commented: “Over the past five years we have seen sell-through rates for whisky offerings increase by over 20% and in recent years, along with the consistent interest from US and European collectors, clients from Asia have been highly active in the whisky market.”


    Wednesday, October 3rd, 2018

    Medieval gold ring brooch and stone, Cloosmore, Dingle, Co. Kerry.

    A medieval period gold ring brooch acquired by the National Museum of Ireland in 2016 is to be sent on a short-term loan to Músaem Chorca Dhuibhne, Baile an Fheirtéaraigh, close to where it was found. The curator at the museum in Baile an Fheirtéaraigh, Isabel Bennett, was instrumental in reporting the find. and the National Museum of Ireland is very grateful to her and especially to the finder, Mr Ian Andrew, who found the brooch by chance while walking on the beach at Cloosmore, Dingle.

    Ring brooches were worn in medieval times by both men and women in order to fasten their gowns or cloaks at the neck. They may have been offered as a sign of affection or as betrothal gifts. Approximately 150 ring brooches are known from Ireland, but would usually be of copper alloy. Only a very small number including this example are made of gold.

    The finder Ian Andrew was on a holiday visit to the Dingle peninsula, where he has strong family connections.  While walking along a rocky coastal foreshore, he noticed a bright light shining between some rocks. After taking a closer look, he identified and retrieved this tiny but exquisite gold ring brooch.  It is an example of a rare type of 13th/14th century ring brooch with projecting hands. The brooch has a blue stone setting of tourmaline. The inscription in Gothic style lettering is legible but their meaning is unclear.a


    Wednesday, September 26th, 2018

    The Ford Thunderbird owned by Marilyn Monroe from 1955 to 1962 comes up at  Julien’s Auctions annual blockbuster event Icons and Idols, Hollywood on November 17 in Los Angeles. It is estimated at $300,000-$500,000. One of the most desired women in the world, Monroe’s life was deeply troubled, but she was enjoying some of the happiest days of her life during the time she owned this car.

    Monroe married celebrated playwright Arthur Miller soon after buying the Thunderbird. A published report at the time suggests that Monroe and Miller drove this vehicle to their civil wedding ceremony on June 28, 1956 and likely their private wedding on June 30, 1956.

    The Marilyn Monroe Thunderbird was purchased on December 20, 1955, from Westport Motors, Westport, Connecticut in the name of her corporation, Marilyn Monroe Productions. Most accounts suggest it was a Christmas gift from her business partner and photographer, Milton Greene.

    UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR $490,000


    Sunday, September 16th, 2018

    Diamond Riviere Necklace, By Mauboussin, c1955
    120,000 – 180,000  UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR 150,000 AT HAMMER

    The autumn jewellery auction at James Adam on September 18 comprises 243 lots. The top lot is a c1955 diamond riviere necklace by Mauboussin estimated at 120,000-180,000.  The catalogue is online. Here is a small selection:


    Coloured Sapphire and Diamond Ring 15,000 – 20,000  UPDATE: THIS WAS UNSOLD

    Gem-Set and Gold Leaf Brooch, By Andrew Grima, 1963 2,500 – 3,500  UPDATE: THIS MADE 5,500 AT HAMMER

    18k Gold Manual Wind ‘Gondolo’ Wristwatch, By Patek Philippe, c2005
    6,500 – 8,500  UPDATE: THIS MADE 7,000 AT HAMMER

    Late 19th Century ‘En Tremblant’ Flower Bouquet Corsage Ornament/Brooch, 1880 20,000 – 30,000 UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR 22,000 AT HAMMER


    Monday, September 10th, 2018

    The Enemy Within – The Spanish Flu in Ireland 1918-19, a new exhibition on the Spanish Flu that swept across Ireland 100 years ago, opens tomorrow at the National Museum of Ireland – Country Life in Turlough Park, Castlebar, Co. Mayo. The Spanish Flu claimed 23,000 lives and infected some 800,000 people in Ireland over a 12-month period from 1918 to 1919. No group, location or aspect of life was spared. However, the epidemic remains an almost forgotten event in 20th-century Irish history.

    Globally the influenza pandemic infected 500 million people and was one of the deadliest natural disasters un human history.

    The exhibition will explore the folk medicines and rudimentary cures used by the public to combat the illness.  It is to be opened by Professor Ingrid Hook, former Head of the School of Pharmacy at Trinity College and a current member of the Board of the National Museum of Ireland.

    Noel Campbell, curator with the National Museum of Ireland – Country Life stated: “The Spanish Flu has been eclipsed in our collective memory by the political events of that decade and the loss of life during the Great War in particular. It remains an understudied event in history despite claiming more lives worldwide than the Great War. The National Museum of Ireland has developed a programme of remembrance and research which will be informative, engaging and also challenging as we attempt to understand the Spanish Flu’s true significance and probe why this epidemic has been almost forgotten in our study and understanding of 20th-century Irish history.”


    Wednesday, September 5th, 2018

    Epiris today announces that Epiris Fund II, advised by Epiris LLP, has agreed the acquisition of Bonhams, the global auction house, from private shareholders. This is Fund II’s fourth investment. Financial terms are not being disclosed.

    Founded in 1793, Bonhams is one of the world’s largest and most renowned auctioneers of fine art and antiques, motor cars and jewellery. The business holds more than 250 sales a year at its flagship salerooms, which include London, New York, Los Angeles and Hong Kong. In 2017, Bonhams sold more than 50,000 lots, generating over £450 million of hammer sales.

    The company is led by CEO Matthew Girling and CFO Jonathan Fairhurst who will be joined by Bruno Vinciguerra as Executive Chairman. Bruno served for eight years as COO at Sotheby’s, and before that held senior roles at Bain, Dell and Disney.

    Matthew Girling, CEO of Bonhams, said: “We are delighted to have found a buyer that recognises the potential offered by this business and its employees. Bonhams is one of the world’s oldest auctioneers – and one of the most ambitious. During the past 20 years we have pursued a growth strategy that has turned the company into a truly global organisation. The value of Bonhams rests with its people, their skills, their extraordinary expertise and their strong networks across the world. Epiris has a demonstrable and successful track record in investment in growing brands and we believe that together we can continue to expand the business whilst still offering the highest possible level of service wherever we operate.”

    Bruno Vinciguerra, incoming Executive Chairman of Bonhams, said: “Bonhams is a business with great potential and a strong track record. I greatly look forward to working with the team to help deliver the next stage of growth.”

    Alex Fortescue, Managing Partner of Epiris, said: “We are thrilled to announce the acquisition of Bonhams, which is Epiris Fund II’s fourth investment. We have taken a selective approach since the fund was raised, and have been assembling a portfolio of exciting investments, each of which fits our transformative strategy. Investment activity levels remain high and we look forward to adding further to the portfolio at the appropriate time.”

    Owen Wilson, Partner at Epiris, said: “Bonhams is a global business operating in a market with long-term structural growth and high barriers to entry. It is a platform with extensive scope for transformation through investment. We are delighted to be working with Bruno, Matthew and the rest of the team to implement our shared vision.”

    Robert Brooks, shareholder and Chairman of Bonhams, said: “We have always had the intention one day to pass on the business to a new owner who shares our long-term vision for Bonhams. We would like to express our gratitude to Matthew Girling and the team, who have helped us transform the business into a truly global platform. I am immensely proud of what we have achieved at Bonhams and look forward to seeing the business continue to thrive under its new owners.”


    Tuesday, September 4th, 2018
    These before and after pictures show the drawing room at Marchmont House in Berwickshire in the Scottish Borders – winners of this years Historic Houses/Sotheby’s restoration award.
    In what is clearly a labour of love the house has been converted by owners Marchmont Farms Ltd.  from a nursing home into a sumptuous family home available for lettings and functions.  Fire doors and green emergency exit signs were thrown out and replaced with an art collection, Georgian mirrors and paintings appropriate to a Palladian house built around 1750.  The five year restoration of one of the finest interiors in Scotland set out to create a splendid but comfortable home with 21st century comforts and preserved historically significant features such as the magnificent plasterwork by Thomas Clayton.  Marchmont is located about 40 miles south from Edinburgh.

    The drawing room after restoration

    The drawing room before restoration.