Andy Warhol has hit payola for the beleaguered Irish taxpayer in New York – thanks to a painting inspired by the US dollar!
Art seized from failed property developer Derek Quinlan has been auctioned off at Christie’s in Manhattan by Ireland’s National Assets Management Agency.
The NAMA art sale also featured work by Robert Motherwell and Alex Katz with two of the three paintings sold on the night at the Rockefeller Plaza.
Warhol’s propitiously titled Dollar Sign sold for $782,500, well above the estimated pre-auction value of $400,000- $600,000 for the 1981 painting. A second NAMA painting, Arches Cover by Robert Motherwell sold for a more modest $74,500.
Bidding for the third painting – Ace Airport by Alex Katz – failed to reach its guide price between $150,000 and $200,000. The auctioneer stopped the bidding at $140,000 and move on.
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Proceeds from the Warhol sale will now be used by NAMA as part payment against the massive debt Quinlan owes the Irish state after the collapse of his property empire.
Previously a tax inspector with the Revenue Commissioners, Quinlan built up a fortune buying and selling property during the Celtic Tiger boom then lost it in the crash.
Now resident in Switzerland, his private art of collection of 16 paintings is in the hands of the Irish state.
Two of the seized paintings were acquired by the National Gallery of Ireland. NAMA will attempt to sell another 11 paintings in London next week.
Quinlan bought the Dollar painting from a Cork gallery for around $400,000 in 2006.
Warhol once said of the painting: “I like money on the wall. Say you were going to buy a painting. I think you should take that money, tie it up, and hang it on the wall. Then when someone visited you, the first thing they would see is the money on the wall.”