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The Art Market: Recovery in Ireland While International Boom Continues (Demo)

The art market: recovery in Ireland while international boom continues
Auctioneers confidence restored as demand returns
Michael Parsons
Irish Times
Saturday January 2nd 2016
The past 12 months saw a recovery in the Irish market and a continuing boom in international art and antique sales. Auctioneers face 2016 with confidence for the first time since the economic crash in 2008. But the year ahead will likely be as unpredictable as the one just past.
The Irish art market 
All the main auction houses reported a recovery in demand for Irish art during 2015 – in line with the economic recovery. The big end-of-year auctions had sold rates averaging 80 per cent although prices remain much lower than during the boom years.
Auctioneers complained of a shortage in the supply of top-quality art and a frequently-cited reason was that owners were reluctant to sell – perhaps for the same reason that purchasers want to buy – with deposit rates so low, many collectors seem to regard art as a good ‘alternative’ investment.
The highest price paid for a painting at auction in Ireland in 2015 was for Man in a Train Thinking by Jack B Yeats which sold for €220,000 at a de Veres auction in December.
The runner-up was Morgan O’Driscoll Auctioneers whereBusiness – also by Jack B Yeats – made €210,000 in December. At Whyte’s, the top lot was Portrait of Gladys Cooper by Sir William Orpen which sold for €175,000 in May. At Adam’s, the highest price achieved was for Roundstone, Connemara by Jack B Yeats which sold for €58,000 in May. Almost overnight, Michael Flatley became one of the most expensive living Irish artists. One of his paintings, featured onThe Late Late Show and titled The Power sold for €177,500 at Morgan O’Driscoll’s art auction in the RDS in May and Flatley later held his debut selling exhibition in London.
Irish antiques, collectibles and jewellery auctions 
Not for the first time, the highest price paid at auction was achieved for a Chinese lot. At Sheppard’s auction of the contents of Capard House, Rosenallis, Co Laois, in September, a couple who had travelled from Beijing especially for the auction, successfully bid €560,000 for Chinese porcelain. In February, a ‘Native American’ outfit, brought home to an aristocratic ‘Big House’ in Co Kilkenny more than 100 years ago, sold for €320,000 at Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers, trouncing the top pre-sale estimate of €6,000.
The outfit (a hide Poncho War Shirt, “with original hand painted native designs”; hide leggings; an original-hand painted and beaded Head Dress with feathers; and a “sheep hide, “bead-decorated purse”) was bought on the telephone by an unnamed bidder in the US.