AUCTIONEERS Bonhams and Irish saleroom Adam’s have decided to end their 12-year arrangement of holding joint sales in Dublin.
Instead of jointly holding sales in June and December, Bonhams have chosen to start staging independent Irish art sales in London at their New Bond Street premises, with the first slated for February 2011.
Their Irish art department will be headed by Penny Day, also a senior specialist in the 20th century British department, who joined the company in 2006 following a year with Christie's.
Bonhams are hoping that they can make these annual specialist sales financially viable despite the much-documented difficulties in the Irish art market over the last two years. Chief executive Matthew Girling said: "Irish art at Bonhams has a distinguished track record, so I am delighted that we will now have our own dedicated Irish art department."
Adam's will continue with their planned sales calendar, staging four 'Important' Irish art sales in Dublin each year.
Managing director James O'Halloran said that they would still send referrals to Bonhams where necessary, but added that ending the joint sales would save considerable expense both in terms of time and transport costs involved in shipping pictures for London viewings twice a year.
He also pointed to the issue of Artist's Resale Right as a factor in the decision. Whereas in Britain the convention is to levy the charge on the buyer, in Ireland it falls on the vendor. This created an anomaly in that lots subject to the levy that have been consigned to Bonhams in the UK were at a competitive disadvantage when offered from the rostrum in Dublin.
• Meanwhile Adam's have been appointed as advisers for the dispersal of The Bank of Ireland's art collection.
The collection formed by Ireland's second largest commercial bank, which dates back to 1783 but more recently was rescued in a €7bn government bail-out in February 2009, includes furniture, tapestries as well as around 2000 pieces of Contemporary art.
James O'Halloran said the total value of the collection was well below the figure of €4m that has been widely quoted in the Irish press.
This was partly because a number of the most valuable works, including a Jack B. Yeats, Paul Henry, Louis le Brocquy and Robert Ballagh have been pledged as 'heritage gifts' to the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) within the last two years.
Adam's will survey the collection before advising the bank on its dispersal. It is thought the works will be sold in phases over five years.
By Alex Capon