seamus dubhghaill

Promoting Irish Culture and History from Little Rock, Arkansas, USA


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First All-Ireland Medal Auctioned at Sotheby’s

The only remaining medal from the first All-Ireland Senior Football Championship, one of the rarest pieces of Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) memorabilia, goes up for auction at Sotheby’s in London on November 15, 2005.

A winner’s medal from the 1887 All-Ireland Football Final, which was actually played in April 1888 and matched the Limerick Commercials GAA club against Dundalk Young Irelands, is sold for €31,000. The medal is a rare piece of GAA memorabilia and it goes for around three times the original estimate when it goes under the hammer.

The 9ct-gold medal is purchased by the Limerick Leader newspaper which says it will put it on public display in Limerick. The Chairman of the Limerick Leader, John McStay, bids for it by telephone.

The medal had been won by Malachi O’Brien from Ballinvrina, County Limerick, who played for the Limerick Commercials GAA Club. They beat Dundalk Young Irelands by 1-4 to 0-3 in April 1888.

The medal is eventually passed down through the family to Mary Doran who lives in Northampton and who is the daughter of Malachi O’Brien’s great-grandnephew. She says she is delighted it will be going on public display in Limerick.


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Francis Bacon Triptych Sells for £23 Million

francis-bacon-triptychA triptych of Lucian Freud portraits by his Irish-born friend Francis Bacon sell for £23 million at Sotheby’s in London, three times the pre-sale low estimate, on February 10, 2011.

Three Studies for a Portrait of Lucian Freud, which is painted in 1964 and shows Bacon’s friend and fellow artist with a variety of facial expressions, creates a buzz before the sale. The question is not if it will make its pre-sale estimate of £7 – £9 million, but how much higher might it possibly go.

More than 10 bidders from four different continents compete for the work. After seven minutes of bidding, it reaches £20.5 million and a hopeful telephone bidder asks if £20.6 million can be offered. The auctioneer, Tobias Meyer, insists on £21 million. There is applause as he finally bangs his hammer.

Cheyenne Westphal, the auction house’s chairman of contemporary art in Europe, says, “This striking painting has everything a collector in the current market is looking for. It is an artwork that radiates ‘wall-power’ with its brilliant colour and dramatic brushstrokes.”

The triptych has been in the same private collection for nearly 50 years and is a testament to the close friendship of two of the titans of 20th century British art. This triptych, Sotheby’s says, contains an “intensity and intimacy that is rarely seen elsewhere.”

Bacon, who dies in 1992, and Freud are kindred spirits, close friends who often see each other every day. They gamble together, drink in the same Soho dens and paint each other.

At the same auction, Salvador Dalí‘s Portrait of Paul Eluard sells for £13.5 million, at a stroke tripling the record auction price for a Dali set at Christie’s on the previous Wednesday, and becoming the most expensive surrealist artwork sold at any auction.

The paintings are part of a truly wondrous private collection. The sale of 60 works from it also includes paintings by Amedeo Modigliani, Alberto Giacometti, Marc Chagall and Joan Miró. There are many gems, including a tiny 12.5 by 9.5 cm Lucian Freud self-portrait that he painted in Jamaica while visiting Ian Fleming at his house, Goldeneye. It sells for £3.3 million.

(Credit: Mark Brown, Arts Correspondent, The Guardian, Feb. 10, 2011)