No knockout as bear makes just €2k at eclectic auction

There was neither a needle nor an anchor on offer but just about everything else was up for grabs yesterday at the start of a strangely wonderful auction which included a stuffed grizzly bear sporting boxing gloves, 35 antique carousel horses and an aluminium caravan that shimmered like a space probe.

Initial estimates put the stuffed 7ft bear complete with boxing gloves at €5,000 but it sold for €2,000 afterwards.

The Heritage Hotel in Killenard, Co Laois, was a cornucopia of colour as Victor Mee Auctions, with antiques dealer Niall Mullen, recreated the interior of Café en Seine in Dublin’s city centre for the two-day sale.

Most of the items on sale came from the iconic entertainment venue while contents from a number of other well known Dublin establishments including the Shelbourne Hotel and the music venue Whelan’s Café were also among the 3,000 lots on offer.

All the extravagant art nouveau furnishings and fittings of the famous nightclub were under the hammer, including more than 100 pieces of striking objet d’art, giant urns, dazzling mirrors and life-size bronze statues.

A life-size wooden Jaguar E-Type with working steering and wheels. fetched €4,000.

“Anything decorative or a bit quirky is attracting big money,” said Niall Mullen. “Café en Seine’s bronzes have been making well above their guide price.”

Individual items were included in the auction, among them a 1979 Porsche 911, a 1979 Ferrari and a sparkling American 1971 Airstream ‘Land Yacht Safari’ caravan.

The 1964 Airstream Land Yacht Safari was one of the unusual items going under the hammer.

The lime green Porsche sold for €30,000, while the Ferrari made €35,000 but the caravan pipped both, selling for €38,000.

A wooden E-Type Jaguar with working steering and wheels went for €4,000, while a set of 1940s petrol pumps converted into a cocktail cabinet fetched €7,500.

“The petrol pumps are a very unusual sculptural piece, and won the Late Late Show’s antiques restoration competition this year,” explained Mr Mullen.

As for the boxing bear, it was one of the many items purchased in Atlanta by the owners of Café en Seine and shipped to Ireland in 40ft containers to dress the Dawson Street watering hole.

As Lot 496, it was estimated to sell for up to €5,000. A famous movie maker, whose name was not disclosed, was said to have expressed an interest but it failed to prove a knockout and was out for the count at €2,000.

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