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Record amount for Irish art work: € 229,000


U.TV WEDNESDAY 25/10/2006 12:45:30  
By:Press Association

Image of Francis Bacon, 1979
watercolour, 61 x 46 cm

A veil of secrecy was drawn over the identity of the Irish buyer who paid a record price for a painting by one of the country's greatest living artists.

The new owner of Louis le Brocquy`s water-colour - Study of Francis Bacon - paid more than 10 times the minimum estimate for the work at an auction in London.

Speculation was mounting among the art world as to who paid 229,048 for the work - which was guided to fetch as little as 22,369 before yesterday`s sale.

The price broke all records for a work on paper by the Dublin-born artist, who is celebrating his 90th birthday this year.

But it was not just le Brocquy who created a stir at Sotheby`s first sale of post-war and contemporary Irish art at its Bond Street rooms.

Some 26 of Ireland`s established and emerging artists set new auction records, with many works selling for prices double and triple their high estimates.

And although eight of the top 10 most expensive works sold to buyers from the artists` own country, a big interest from overseas suggested the wider art world was taking more notice of the Emerald Isle.

"Bidding activity was truly international - and perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of the mix we saw today was the collectors from other fields - modern British, international contemporary and jewellery for instance - who entered the fray," said art expert Arabella Bishop.

"Following a great reception to the sale`s travelling exhibition to both Dublin and Belfast, we were especially pleased to see so much interest from collectors in London as well as from the Continent and the United States, many of whom have rarely come into contact with Irish art before."

Sotheby`s said it was "thrilled" with the results, with half of all the works being sold above their maximum estimated price.

The second highest price paid at the auction was also for a le Brocquy - his Study of a Head from Memory, an oil painting from his highly-acclaimed portrait series.

Estimated to reach at most 74,000, it in fact was sold for 143,155, also to an anonymous Irish buyer.

An acrylic work by another of Ireland`s most esteemed artists - Basil Blackshaw from Glengormley, Co Antrim - fetche 98,419, making it the third highest price paid at the sale. A private buyer from Northern Ireland bought the work called Untitled (Dog).