Global audience as Beatles lyrics sell for $910,000

Des O’Sullivan reports on a changed market.
Global audience as Beatles lyrics sell for $910,000

Des O’Sullivan reports on a changed market.

Adapt or perish might well be the mantra for an art and antiques market in a state of flux. Tough times are sending a strong signal to the tough to get going. The future will be different. The pandemic has accelerated the movement towards online sales. Change has come quickly.

Locally, nationally and internationally many auctioneers who had previously featured a mix of online and in house sales are adapting fast to a market where the uncertain future is becoming less shortterm. Many report that website traffic is busier than ever before.

Those auctioneers who took the plunge immediately after the lockdown have been finding significant success. True, many auctions have been postponed.

As of now the schedule of upcoming sales in Ireland is a bit thin. In a highly varied marketplace it is not a case of one size fits all. Some lots lend themselves to online sales better than others. Those that have gone ahead, often in a revised manner, are demonstrating that it can work, in some cases marvellously well.

'Shawl' by Gerard Dillon made €24,000 at hammer at Morgan O'Driscoll's online sale.
'Shawl' by Gerard Dillon made €24,000 at hammer at Morgan O'Driscoll's online sale.

Julien’s achieved spectacular results with its Beatles online-only sale last week. The top lot at an online auction (originally to have taken place in New York) was Paul McCartney’s handwritten lyrics to “Hey Jude”. This sold for $910,000 over an estimate of $160,000-$180,000 in an auction which attracted a global audience of registered bidders.

This Irish George IV table with a light brown marble top is at Sotheby's Style online sale in New York.
This Irish George IV table with a light brown marble top is at Sotheby's Style online sale in New York.

Last Saturday this column noted that contemporary art had taken a hit in the lockdown. This proved true at Morgan O’Driscoll’s sale on Tuesday evening when three works by Jeff Koons failed to find buyers. Koons is one of the world’s most expensive living artists. Damien Hirst also failed to sell.

Morgan O’Driscoll did have a highly successful sale. The top lot, Paul Henry’s Celtic Cross in a West of Ireland Landscape made €105,000 at hammer.

Other top hammer prices were: George Barret, Landscape with Figures, €36,000; Gerard Dillon,Shawl, €24,000; Daniel O’Neill, Choosing Flowers, €24,000; Paul Henry, Mountain Landscape with Lake and Road €22,000; Tony O’Malley, Clare Island Greys, €19,000; Louis le Brocquy, William Butler Yeats, €18,000; Hughie O’Donoghue, Medusa Hold, €17,000; William Conor, Forty Winks, €14,000; John Shinnors, Roxboro Road Bus Stop, €14,000; Donald Teskey, Longshore IV, €14,000; Norah McGuinness, The Black Swan, €14,000; Kenneth Webb, Spring Bogland, Ballinabo, €12,000; Sir John Lavery, Portrait of William Burton Harris, €12,000; William Scott, Abstract Composition, €10,500; Patrick O’Reilly, Pegasus, €10,000 and John Behan, Wild Swans at Coole, €9,500.

Wild Swans at Coole by John Behan made €9,500 at hammer at Morgan O'Driscoll's online sale.
Wild Swans at Coole by John Behan made €9,500 at hammer at Morgan O'Driscoll's online sale.

Aidan Foley was pleased with two days of online sales at Sixmilebridge and plans more on the May Bank Holiday weekend. Among his main lots were Spring Evening by Arthur Maderson which made €2,100 at hammer and The Stars Serenade by Annie Robinson which made €1,350.

At Matthews’ online sale on Tuesday, a Zambian emerald ring made €17,200 and a sapphire and diamond target ring made €10,000.

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