Dublin fine art auctioneers James Adam believe uncertainty regarding the euro has helped rather than hindered the Irish art market.
Adam's 2011 sales reached the €10m mark, a ten per cent increase on 2010. Meanwhile, the average selling rate by lot rose from 70 to 80%.
Although well down on the halcyon days of the Celtic Tiger (Adams posted sales of €17.5m in 2006), this is the second year in a row that the St Stephens Green firm have recorded a ten per cent increase in sales. It is a positive note on which to celebrate the firm's 125 years in the fine art business.
The success of Adam's quarterly Irish art auctions contributed significantly to the figures, with two artists in particular - Jack B. Yeats and Paul Henry - performing strongly when estimated at sensible levels.
Yeats' Fair Day, Mayo brought a new Irish record when it sold in September for €1m, making it the highest-priced painting ever sold at auction in Ireland. Yeats' Jazz Babies sold in December for €480,000 (it had last been sold in Ireland in 1981 for the equivalent of €14,000), while good paintings by Paul Henry averaged €70,000 each.
"I believe that many buyers saw, in good artworks, a safe haven for their savings at a time when the euro has been under considerable pressure," managing director James O'Halloran told ATG.
"Despite difficult economic conditions in Ireland, good quality items are continuing to achieve strong prices, with the vast majority of purchasers coming from this country. [Sales of €10m] is a great result and one that shows that the company is heading in the right direction after several hard years."
Moss Green figures
On the other side of the world, where the economy has been notably strong, Australian auction house Moss Green have also released buoyant figures.
A slew of single-owner auctions hs helped the Melbourne-based firm to a 43% increase in sales totals, from Aus$9.9m to Aus$14.2m.
Managing director Paul Sumner, a former chairman of Sotheby's Olympia, also said that sales of Chinese art had contributed a quarter of the entire sales total for the year.
Although only a fraction of the prices seen in London, New York and Hong Kong, Moss Green were able to claim the record in Australia for a Chinese work of art with the Aus$1.22m paid against an estimate of $150,000-250,000 in November for a 15th century Xuande mark and period gilt-bronze figure of Avalokitesvara. It also set a record for a single piece of decorative art sold at auction in Australia, said Mr Sumner.