Bargain hunters hover as CJ’s art collection goes under hammer

HE was a man renowned for his finer tastes, but the sale of Charles J Haughey’s art collection tonight is set to attract a party of bargain hunters.

After enormous interest during the showing of more than 100 pieces from the former taoiseach’s Abbeville collection they go on sale at Adam’s auctioneers in Dublin this evening.

David Britton, who is handling the auction, said that in these recessionary times, people have been skulking around the works looking for a cute trade.

“We had one of our biggest days on Sunday. Because there is no reserve price on many of the pieces, I think people have got the whiff of a bargain and that has been the attraction,” he said.

Guide prices on the catalogue vary between €30 for some works to more than €2,500 for others.

While the prices quoted may not betray the man’s often lavish lifestyle, the subject matter says a lot more.

Along with boats in Kinsale harbour, there are seascapes of the Kerry coastline, carvings of President John F Kennedy and portraits of Mr Haughey’s Irish Grand National-winning racehorse, Flashing Steel.

There is Tom Roche’s portrait of the Fureys and lots of scenes from the Irish countryside and national romanticism.

Undoubtedly, the most iconic piece on sale is the Rossa J Nolan oil painting of the controversial former taoiseach at the helm of his yacht, Celtic Mist. This is listed to fetch between €1,500-€2,500.

The Abbeville lot forms part of two collections going under the hammer tonight, the other being the more sought-after collection of Cork solicitor and long-time chairman of the city’s film festival, Charlie Hennessy, who died in July 2008.

He also held the position of chairman of the National College of Art and Design.

This sale is the third part of Mr Hennessy’s collection and will see more than 120 items change hands.

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