Haughey, who died in a helicopter crash in 2014, was only the third person to have sat in the upper houses of both the British and Irish parliaments. He sat in the Seanad Éireann as an Ulster Unionist from 1994 and then in the Lords as a Conservative peer from 2004.
Haughey’s London home on Belgrave Square, which he bought in 2006 for £12m, provided the centre of life at the highest echelons of British society. A three-year restoration transformed a Georgian townhouse into a Lilliputian Versailles – a place to entertain on the grand scale against a backdrop of historical tapestries, ormolu mantel clocks, white marble statuary and boulle marquetry.
Property from The Ballyedmond Collection, Belgrave Square was offered by Dreweatts (25% buyer’s premium) at Donnington Priory on July 30. It proved among the most successful furniture and works of art sales of the summer, generating a £770,000 hammer total, 56% above the pre-sale high estimate of £490,000. Just 16 of the 500 lots, most of them priced to sell, failed to find a buyer.
Setting the tone
Lot number one set the tone: a pair of Sèvres style gilt-metal mounted vases and covers made c.1900 in the imperial style.
Measuring an imposing 3ft 11in (1.17m) high, these were decorated to a blue and gilt ground with scenes from the Napoleonic battles of Friedland and Wagram and the imperial N cypher.
The artist, copying the work of Horace Vernet, signed his work HFM Faraguet. These had some restoration (one cover was now yellowed) but sold at £17,000 (estimate £3000-5000).
Made in the Louis XV rococo taste, but again around the turn of the 20th century, was a substantial gilt bronze 25-light chandelier, a riot of rocaille scrollwork, foliage and putti clutching bells arranged in two tiers.
It measured roughly 3ft 3in (1m) high by 3ft 6in (1.07m) wide and was wired for electricity. Estimated at £2000-3000, it was the top-priced lot, selling online at £28,000.
A similar improvement on expectations was provided by a typical French kingwood and gilt metal mounted vitrine, c.1880.
Serpentine form and mirror-backed, it measured 6ft 11in (2.11m) high by 4ft 2in (1.25m) wide and was in good condition save some losses and areas of restuck veneer. If the estimate of £1500- 2500 was a little lightweight, the hammer price of £20,000 was a hefty sum.
Revivalism of this ilk has long had international appeal. Bidders from 39 countries took part in the sale: of the 734 registrants 189 were from outside the UK.
Some good Georgian and Victorian domestic silver included a Victorian silver five-piece novelty cruet set by Thomas Smily, London 1878: a mustard pot and four salt cellars and spoons each modelled as sea urchins. It is a rare design – one that is not included in the catalogue of The Colman Collection of Silver Mustard Pots – so it seemed bound to sell well above the £300-500 guide. It went to a buyer on thesaleroom.com for £3800.
Always popular with owners of vintage cars are the deluxe travelling picnic sets by makers such as Drew & Sons of Piccadilly in the 1920s-30s.
The example here, in a black cloth-covered case, included tea wares and cutlery for four plus pottery and chrome-plated sandwich boxes, wicker covered glass bottles, labelled jars for butter and preserves and two vacuum flasks. It took £2600 (estimate £400-600).