Information about Art, Antiques and Auctions in Ireland and around the world
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    Tuesday, October 26th, 2021

    The first Penny Black postage stamp comes up at Sotheby’s Treasures sale in London on December 7. The world’s first postage stamp is part of a unique document from the archive of British postal reformer Robert Wallace. It is dated April 10, 1840 and estimated at £4-£6 million.

    This small Penny Black – a pristine impression, unused, and from plate 1a (the very first printed sheet) and lettered A-I – represents the birth of a device that would be central to the birth of mass communications across the globe for more than a century and a half and that still has not been completely supplanted by newer technologies. Rediscovered nearly three decades ago but not fully recognised until much more recently, the stamp’s identification began when British businessman and philatelist Alan Holyoake came into the possession of The Wallace Document, to which the stamp is attached, almost ten years ago. Holyoake was to instigate a three-year research project – which culminated with the document being issued with certificates of authenticity from The Royal Philatelic Society, London (2016) and The British Philatelic Association (2015), and its subsequent exhibition at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum in Washington DC.

    ‘The Wallace Document’, which will be offered for sale at Sotheby’s, is considered the most important piece of philatelic history in the world. It is from a now dispersed personal scrap-album assembled by MP Robert Wallace, and brings together two highly important philatelic artefacts: the Penny Black and a proof of the ‘Mulready Stationery’ that had been commissioned by the government as an alternative means to prepay postage. Both were given to him in thanks by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Francis Baring, for everything that Wallace had done to overhaul the postal system and bring these innovations to fruition.


    Tuesday, October 19th, 2021

    L.S. Lowry’s only known painting of an auction room is to make its debut at Sotheby’s in London on November 23. The Auction is estimated at £1.2-£1.8 million. The bustling scene characteristic of the artist is populated by familiar characters, and even a dog on a lead. The Auction transports the viewer into the centre of the action, with the auctioneer on the rostrum poised to bring the gavel down.  As early as the 1920s, Lowry touched on the subject of auctions with a drawing titled Selling Up the Old Antiques Shop. Another painting, Jackson’s Auction and Saleroom from 1952, depicts the exterior of the auction house in Manchester, with furniture amassed outside. In The Auction, this longstanding interest comes to its apex, and the viewer is shown the full glory of a sale in action for the first and only time

    Executed on a large-scale in 1958, the work has never been offered at auction, and was acquired by the present owners over two decades ago. It was exhibited at Lowry’s landmark retrospective at the Royal Academy in 1976 and was last shown at AMNUA in Nanjing in China in 2014. It will be a highlight at the Modern British Art auction.



    Friday, October 8th, 2021
    Sandro Botticelli – The Man of Sorrows 

    One of the last great Botticelli masterpieces in private hands will come up at Sotheby’s in New York next January during Masters Week. The Man of Sorrows – which portrays the resurrected Christ – is a late work produced at a time when the artist had come under the influence of fanatical Dominican friar Girolamo Savonarola. It has an estimate of in excess of $40 million. It comes to market following the record-breaking sale of Botticelli’s Young Man Holding a Roundel at Sotheby’s last January. It made $92.2 million.

    (See post on for January 28, 2021)


    Thursday, October 7th, 2021

    Boat, Connemara by Lucian Freud comes up at Sotheby’s Contemporary Art evening sale in London on October 14 with an estimate of £750,000-£950,000.  It is one of two works the artist produced while in Ireland for three weeks in August 1948. It appeared on the market for the first time in more than 50 years at Christie’s in 2012 with an estimate of £200,000-300,000 and sold for £657,250. It is being sold by the owner who acquired it then. UPDATE: THIS WAS UNSOLD

    (See post on for January 30, 2012)


    Saturday, October 2nd, 2021

    The international autumn selling season gets underway in earnest this month. Major auction houses have been issuing previews of what to expect.  Sotheby’s Contemporary Art evening sale in London on October 14, to coincide with the Frieze and Frieze Masters art fairs, will be headed by what they cheerfully describe as the most famous artwork of the 21st century, Banksy’s Love is in the Bin. Global news and instant art history happened when Girl with a Balloon was shredded just after the hammer came down on a million pound bid in 2018.  It was then authenticated by Banksy and given a new title of Love is in the Bin.  The new owner decided the wise thing to do was bank on Banksy and kept it.  It now comes to market with an estimate of £4 million – £6 million (€4.67 million – €7.01 million).

    Love is in the Bin by Banksy. UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR £18.5 MILLION

    This is the dawning of the age of minorities and in what will be an undoubted shot in the arm for black transgender women artists MGM resorts will sell their Picasso’s in Las Vegas on October 23 and build a new collection with a focus of diversity.  The art market of the future will feature artists from a more diverse range of backgrounds, particularly from groups who have been discriminated against. Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Because it Hurts the Lungs (1986) will be a highlight at Christie’s live and livestreamed 20th/21st Century evening sale including Thinking Italian in London on October 15.  The title of the work is taken from a cryptic quote by Leonardo:  “Why the thunderbolt kills a (man and) does not wound him, and if the man blew his nose he would not die.  Because it hurts the lungs”. Winston Churchill, whose Tower at Koutoubia Mosque” sold for a record £8.3 million in March, will highlight Christie’s Modern British art evening auction in London on October 20.  The Bridge at Aix en Provence was gifted to the Swiss paint manufacturer Willy Sax, who supplied Churchill with his artistic materials and would become a lifelong friend.  It is now estimated at £1.5-£2.5 million (€1.75-€2.92 million).As part of a global expansion Bonhams has just opened its first dedicated saleroom on the Continent at Rue de la Paix in the heart of the luxury district in Paris. There will be a sale of Antiquities next Thursday (October 7).  This will be followed one week later by a sale of Post War and Contemporary art.


    Wednesday, September 22nd, 2021
    Frida Kahlo, Diego y yo (Diego and I) (1949)

    Diego y yo is a quintessential example of Frida Kahlo’s singular approach to portraiture. Intense and emotional, this important work by the beloved and renowned artist is poised to shatter her current auction record of $8 million. When it comes up at Sotheby’s Modern evening sale in New York in November it may become the most valuable work of Latin American art ever sold at auction.  The estimate for the final fully realised bust self portrait completed before her death in 1954 is in excess of $30 million.

    The Modern Evening Sale, formerly the Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale, will inaugurate a larger reorganisation of Sotheby’s General Fine Art evening sale with further details yet to be announced. Brooke Lampley, Sotheby’s Chairman and Worldwide Head of Sales for Global Fine Art, remarked: “Frida Kahlo’s emotionally bare and complex portrait Diego y yo is a defining work by one of the few artists whose influence transcends the world of fine art to pop culture and beyond. To offer this portrait in our Modern evening sale in November heralds the recent expansion of the Modern category to include greater representation of underrepresented artists, notably women artists, and rethink how they have historically been valued at auction.”


    Friday, September 3rd, 2021

    Banksy’s shredded  Love is in the Bin will return to Sotheby’s New Bond Street galleries this October, at four to six times the price. Passing through a hidden shredder just seconds after the hammer fell on a million pound bid, the “nation’s favourite artwork” – Girl with a Balloon – seemingly auto-destructed in 2018 while hanging on the wall in Sotheby’s packed auction room. Capturing the world by surprise, this unexpected piece of performance art became instant art history, making it the first time a new work had been created in the course of an auction.

    In the days that followed, the shredded artwork was granted a new certificate and date by Pest Control, Banksy’s authentication body, and given the new title, Love is in the Bin. The collector who had placed the record winning bid on Girl with Balloon decided to keep the new work.* Looking back on the event, she explains: “That surreal evening three years ago, I became the accidental – but very privileged – owner of Love is in the Bin. It has been an incredible journey to have been part of the story of how one of the most famous artworks in the world came to be, but now it is time to let the painting go.”

    It will come up at the Contemporary Art evening auction at Sotheby’s in London on October 14 – this time with an estimate of £4-£6 million.

    Banksy’s Love is in the Bin, 2018


    Tuesday, August 24th, 2021

    The 1937 poster for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is the most expensively estimated lot at Sotheby’s online auction of original film posters. This was Walt Disney’s first feature film so it is a prized piece for any collector. It features the full cast with the dreamy castle in the background and is estimated at £12,000-18,000. The sale runs online from August 27 to September 7. The lots on offer demonstrate over 100 years of cinematic history from across the globe. There is promotional materials including posters, lobby cards, production stills and original artworks used to herald some of the world’s most iconic films with estimates from £300 upwards.



    Wednesday, August 11th, 2021

    In a major push to focus on diversity and inclusion MGM Resorts plans to sell its Picasso’s. MGM Resorts and Sotheby’s will present a one of a kind marquee evening sale of Picasso masterworks worth millions live from Bellagio in Las Vegas on October 23. The world renowned entertainment company plans to re-shape its public art portfolio. The unique collaboration between Sotheby’s and MGM represents the first time Sotheby’s has hosted a marquee sale in North America outside its signature New York venue. It will feature a recreated version of the New York saleroom in Las Vegas. The sale will be broadcast around the world via a livestream viewable on

    Featuring 11 works that showcase the range and breadth of Pablo Picasso’s celebrated career, the auction includes a highly curated selection of paintings, works on paper, and ceramics that span more than 50 years of artistic output from 1917 to 1969. The highlight of the collection is  Femme au béret rouge-orange ($20/30 million), one of Picasso’s defining portraits of Marie-Thérèse Walter. The artist’s muse and lover inspired many of his most iconic portraits of the 1930’s.

    Pablo Picasso – Femme au béret rouge-orange
    Painted January 14, 1938 Oil and ripolin on canvas
    © 2021 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. UPDATE: THIS MADE $40,479,000


    Monday, August 9th, 2021

    A question is posed by an online Sotheby’s sale running until August 12.  Do you want merely to set the table for dinner or is a creative tablescape more to your taste?  If the answer is the latter then “Dining IN”  – running as two concurrent auctions in London and New York – is the sale to set your post lockdown celebrations underway. With content ranging from the 19th to the 21st centuries this auction celebrates the dining experience in all its formats.  There is a focus on modern silver and ceramics, including Tiffany and Georg Jensen, Meissen and Versace porcelain.  From Regency splendour to Victorian whimsy the creative teams involved have brought together a selection of silver, porcelain, glass, furniture and table linen to cater for a variety of tastes. Highlights include a George III silver soup tureen and a Martin Brothers grotesque stoneware spoon warmer from 1881 but there is enough of a selection here to let the imagination run riot.

    A pair of silver sculptural candelabra by Patrick Mavros, Zimbabwe 1999  UPDATE: THESE SOLD FOR £10,080