Financier had Midas touch in boom which the great and the good prized
Published 15/04/2011 | 05:00
Derek Quinlan was the man Ireland's wealthy golden circle regarded as having the Midas touch when it came to investing in property, and during the boom they queued up to give him their cash to make them even richer.
His clients were a who's who of Irish society that he personally selected to join his exclusive investment club. They included Riverdance duo John McColgan and Moya Doherty, veteran broadcaster Gay Byrne and his 'Late Late' successor Pat Kenny, as well as U2 guitarist The Edge.
Some of the country's top judges and barristers all accepted Mr Quinlan's personal invitation to join schemes such as the Nollaig Partnership that gave investors an opportunity to finance the Four Seasons Hotel in Ballsbridge. They included Supreme Court Judge Fidelma Macken, former Attorney General and AIB chairman Dermot Gleeson, and Lar Bradshaw, the former chairman of the Dublin Docklands Development Authority.
Others who gave his company, the Quinlan Partnership, their money to invest included Arnotts chairman Richard Nesbitt, and barristers John Gordon, Liam Reidy and Anthony Kidney. Among the other professionals who entrusted their money to him were orthopaedic surgeon Robert McQuillan and former master of Holles Street Hospital Peter Boylan.
Other investors included property developers Bernard McNamara and Paddy McKillen; British billionaire Peter Green; architect Anthony Reddy; Trinity Biotech chief executive Ronan O Caoimh; the McCann family that run the fruit impor business Fyffes; and cinema tycoon Paul Anderson.
It started out as a discreet club that grew by word of mouth and some monied individuals were offended not to have been included.
Mr Quinlan was an accountant who joined the Revenue Commissioners and worked as a tax inspector, heading up special investigations into tax evasion.
He had no trouble rounding up investors who wanted a slice of some of the most prestigious properties he was buying, from Ireland to Eastern Europe and the US.
Mr Quinlan liked to maintain a low profile even while the Quinlan Partnership's business was expanding rapidly.
At the height of the boom it was managing assets of more than €11bn that included hotels, shopping centres, commercial office blocks and residential developments for its clients.
He lived in Dublin's richest address, Shrewsbury Road, with his second wife Siobhan and their young children.
Their elegant home, Derrymore, had a wine cellar and a gym, and the drawing room had wall panelling created by Queen Elizabeth's nephew Viscount Linley. They also had a large art collection, including works by Sean Scully, Hughie O'Donoghue, Roderic O'Conor and Jack B Yeats, much of it bought at the top of the Irish art boom.