Paintings from one of Ireland’s most prestigious art collections are to be sold in London.
Works from the collection built up by Dublin-based millionaire businessman Michael Smurfit – and normally on display at the exclusive K Club sports and leisure complex in the Irish Republic’s Co Kildare – will come under the hammer at Sotheby’s annual sale of Irish Art in their Bond Street headquarters in May.
They will go on show there on Monday, marking the first time the paintings have been exhibited as a group outside Ireland.
Henry Wyndham, Chairman of Sotheby’s Europe, said: “We are delighted to be offering these works at auction in May.
“The Jefferson Smurfit Group has over the last 15 years built one of the most substantial collections of major Irish art.
“It has become celebrated not least because of its setting in the splendour of the K Club, Co Kildare, but also for its individual highlights.
Mr Wyndham said Sotheby’s had been the dominant force in the re-emergence of interest in Irish art in recent years since holding their first annual sale of work from Ireland in 1995.
The Smurfit collection was put together at the paper and packaging company’s head office in Dublin and the K Club, to underpin the Irish atmosphere of both the company and the hotel and sports centre.
Last September the Jefferson Smurfit Group was bought by Madison Dearborn Partners, a Chicago-based company, and a decision was later taken to sell selected works of art from the collection.
Paintings on offer include one completed in 1906 by Sir William Orpen of Mrs Evelyn St George, who later became the artist’s lover and patron, and has an estimated price of €1m.
There is also another Orpen as well as an early painting by Jack B Yeats, brother of the poet W B Yeats, and another by contemporary artist Louis le Brocquy as well as works by Sir John Lavery, Walter Osborne, and Roderic O’Conor.
Ahead of the Dublin sale, the paintings will be on show in Dublin and Belfast.