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Monday, 8 August 2011

NAMA Secret Art Auctions...

Nama declines to issue list of art collections to be auctioned...

A NUMBER of valuable artworks seized by the National Asset Management Agency from property developers are to be put up for auction in the coming months.

However, Nama has declined to provide a list of the art collections it has acquired, saying only that it was “keenly interested in getting best prices for the works”.

Last month, the agency published a list of assets it had for sale but it made no reference at that time to the various art collections seized from developers who own billions to the banks.

While the agency will not name the individuals involved, it has already seized the art collection of Derek Quinlan – a former tax inspector turned property speculator, and resident of Shrewsbury Road, Dublin 4 – who moved to Switzerland in 2009.

It is expected other collections assembled during the boom will come under Nama’s control in the months and years ahead as the assets of other developers and companies are taken into public ownership.

Some of the art is hanging in private homes while some is in hotels and office buildings.

In a statement, Nama said it “currently has possession of a number of paintings which are being stored securely”, and “plans to offer these for sale through the international art market auctions in the coming months”.

While the agency would not disclose details of the artworks, it said it had “sought proposals from several fine art auction houses” and expects that “the works will be disposed of in the autumn-winter fine art sales”.

The proceeds would be used to “offset outstanding loans owed to the agency by the relevant debtor”. The agency also added: “As with all assets, Nama is keenly interested in getting best prices for the works and best value from the auction house and these will form part of the criteria used to select the auction house to which the works will be consigned”.

An authoritative art trade source, who did not wish to be named, believed the valuation and sale of the paintings should be put out to public tender, pointing out that “normally in State and semi-State business a tendering process is mandatory”.

He described the procedure as “not a very transparent way to dispose of assets”.

The decision by Nama is awaited with interest by all the main Irish fine art auctioneers and also by the “big three” international players – Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Bonhams who each have a representative in Ireland.

Two paintings from Mr Quinlan’s collection have been acquired by the National Gallery of Ireland. One, Sir John Lavery’s Return From Market – valued at €300,000 – was given as a “gift” from Nama to the nation; and a second, National Airs/ Patriotic Airs by Jack B Yeats – for which the gallery paid Nama €175,000. Nama said: “The Yeats was professionally valued by an independent expert” following a “competitive process”.

The National Gallery is not planning to acquire any more of Mr Quinlan’s collection – thought to number a dozen paintings some by household name artists such as Paul Henry, Roderic O’Conor and Andy Warhol. The collection was worth an estimated €5 million but is estimated to have fallen in value by at least 50 per cent.

Report by MICHAEL PARSONS - Irish Times

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