Tycoon's dolce vita ends as art seized
'Ruined' McNamara's assets will be sold to pay his mounting debts
Published 27/06/2010 | 05:00
THE Dublin city sheriff has seized an art collection and other valuables from the Ailesbury Road home of fallen property developer Bernard McNamara. The collection will be sold to help pay his debts.
The sheriff, Brendan Walsh, is believed to have moved against the property developer within the past fortnight, calling to his salubrious Dublin 4 home acting on a court order to seize anything of value from his home to reimburse his creditors. The sheriff is believed to have taken paintings from the family home along with a small number of other items.
The development marks a new low for Mr McNamara, once one of Ireland's richest men but who now owes €1.5bn. The property developer and former county councillor from Clare turned the building firm founded by his father Michael into one of the biggest in Ireland.
He is the highest-profile former tycoon to date to be targeted by bailiffs, signalling just how far some of Ireland's billionaires have fallen now that the state sheriffs are being deployed to seize their assets.
Mr McNamara admitted earlier this year that he was facing personal ruin because he was unable to meet his debts and could possibly lose his family home.
He owes money to Anglo Irish Bank, AIB, Bank of Scotland (Ireland) and Ulster Bank. A group of business people -- known as the Davy investors -- who invested with him in the disastrous Irish Glass Bottle factory site in Ringsend secured a personal judgement against him for €62.5m in January. The judgement meant that his creditors could then seek an order to have the sheriff collect the debt on their behalf by going to his home and seizing valuables they could find to go towards repaying the debt.
Another judgement against Mr McNamara for €2.24m was registered in March.
The knock on his front door from the bailiffs a fortnight ago was not unexpected.
Mr McNamara told RTE in January that his "head was on a plate".
"Everything I have had since I was a young fella is being put on the line. I'm not running anywhere. I'll stand here and face whatever music there is," he said.
He claimed that he was "hit on the road by something that no one saw was coming".
"All I can do is my level best to behave with decency in the situation I am in," he said.
However, the Davy investors have been pressing Mr McNamara to disclose the full extent of his assets in the Commercial Court. During one court hearing earlier this year, Mr McNamara's barrister told the court that his client's finances were so complex that it would be impossible to outline the value of all of his assets and liabilities. Both sides eventually reached a deal that he would disclose his personal wealth in private.
Mr McNamara has lived in the family home on Ailesbury Road since 2000, when he bought the property for a reported €2.8m and carried out a massive redevelopment, turning it into one of the biggest mansions in the Embassy belt. He also has holiday homes in Marbella, Spain and Co Clare and an apartment in Manhatten, New York, in his wife Moira's name.
Mr McNamara recently denied newspaper reports that he had sold the Ailesbury Road mansion, which includes a cinema and an underground swimming pool.
Despite his financial difficulties in Ireland, Mr McNamara is reportedly trying to rebuild his empire abroad. He has been travelling regularly to the Middle East where his company, Arabian McNamara Contracting, is reportedly involved in a building project for a new terminal at Doha International Airport for Qatar Airways. He is believed to be acting as a consultant to the project. The Davy investors are seeking details of the contract, which is reportedly worth between $16m and $30m (€13m to €24m).
Mr McNamara could not be contacted for comment yesterday.
Mr Walsh said it was his policy not to comment.