Sunday 11 December 2016

Beit Foundation makes €586,000 profit after €1m art sell-off

Gordon Deegan

Published 29/05/2015 | 02:30

Valuable paintings for sale: Russborough House
Valuable paintings for sale: Russborough House

The foundation that operates Russborough House recorded a profit of €568,414 in 2013 on the back of the €1m sale of Chinese porcelain at Sotheby’s.

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The Albert Beit Foundation is under fire from the Irish Georgian Society, a number of academics and An Taisce over its plan to sell important paintings from the Wicklow mansion valued at €11m.

The Irish Georgian Society (IGS) has stated that the sale of Old Master paintings from Russborough “will represent an irredeemable loss to our national cultural patrimony”.

The IGS has described the planned sale as “deplorable”.

However, the Albert Beit Foundation has stated that the sale of the Old Masters paintings is “an absolute necessity” if the stately home is to remain open to the public.

The paintings have not been on public view for many years due to security concerns. Some were stolen – but later recovered – from the house in 1974 by an IRA gang, and again in 1986 by criminal Martin Cahill.

Accounts filed for 2013 show that it recorded an operating loss of €564,213 before the ‘exceptional’ sale of the Chinese porcelain is taken into account.

A note attached to the accounts states that the €1.07m raised from the sale of the Chinese porcelain “is considered exceptional by virtue of its size”.

The foundation stated that the €1m would “would go a long way in conserving and preserving Russborough for future generations” with the immediate priorities being repairs to the roof and dealing with damp.

The accounts offer a hint at the planned Old Masters sale with the directors’ report stating that “there are plans to raise additional cash resources in the future from the sale of non-core assets”.

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