Friday 20 October 2017

After BoI, Wilbur blows $11m on art

Nick Webb

Nick Webb

NEW bank of Ireland director Wilbur Ross, the US billionaire investor, spent $11.3m (€9m) buying a painting by Rene Magritte last week.

Ross paid $11.3m for the painting called Les Jours Gigantesques, which was painted by Magritte in 1928. His winning bid was nine times the pre-auction estimate at the Christies sale in London on Wednesday.

While Ross paid over the odds for his Magritte, he picked up his near 9 per cent stake in Bank of Ireland for a song when the Government sold a 35 per cent chunk in the bank for €1.1bn to a group made up of Ross, Fairfax and US giant Fidelity last year.

The group invested at a price of 10c per share. Prem Watsa, the head of Fairfax, told investors recently that the bank's real book value was "running a little below 30c, maybe 27 to 28c".

Last week Ross and Watsa were appointed to the BoI board with "immediate effect". The bank also announced that former Lloyds bank executive Archie Kane would replace Pat Molloy as chairman at the end of the month.

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