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'I hope others will be able to gain the joy from them' - Michael Smurfit to auction off K Club artwork worth €6m

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EVERYTHING MUST GO: A reported condition of sale was that Smurfit (pictured in his K Club home) would leave no trace behind. Photo: Mark Condren

EVERYTHING MUST GO: A reported condition of sale was that Smurfit (pictured in his K Club home) would leave no trace behind. Photo: Mark Condren

EVERYTHING MUST GO: A reported condition of sale was that Smurfit (pictured in his K Club home) would leave no trace behind. Photo: Mark Condren

Irish businessman Michael Smurfit is to sell around €6m worth of artwork that once adorned the walls of his formerly owned K Club golf resort.

The high end resort was reportedly sold by Smurfit for over €65 million in February, and now the artwork that furnished the club and his private residence in Kildare will go under the hammer at Sotheby's Auction House in London.

Smurfit collected an array of international and Irish artworks over the course of 30 years and his collection includes pieces by Jack B Yeats, John Lavery and William Orpen.

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Interior of Sir Michael Smurfit's private residence in Kildare, showing some of his artwork

Interior of Sir Michael Smurfit's private residence in Kildare, showing some of his artwork

Interior of Sir Michael Smurfit's private residence in Kildare, showing some of his artwork

The pieces of art will be presented in a series of auctions held in London across the calendar year, with a combined pre-sale low estimate of £5.3m (€5.9m).

Sotheby’s have described the collection as "exceptional".

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Jack B. Yeats' 'In Tír Na Nóg', oil on canvas, 1936, Estimated at between £300,000 and £500,000 (€337,000 and €561,000)

Jack B. Yeats' 'In Tír Na Nóg', oil on canvas, 1936, Estimated at between £300,000 and £500,000 (€337,000 and €561,000)

Jack B. Yeats' 'In Tír Na Nóg', oil on canvas, 1936, Estimated at between £300,000 and £500,000 (€337,000 and €561,000)


Under his ownership, the businessman turned the K Club into a luxurious and high-end resort. As Ireland moved away from the recession of the 1980s, and towards the heady days of the Celtic Tiger The K Club became something of a playground for sports stars and corporate business men.

Smurfit, said in February that selling the K Club "represents the end of an era for me and my family."

His beloved art, perhaps, may have been even harder to part with with.

"Collecting art has been a wonderful adventure over the last 30 years or so – the friendships and friendly rivalries formed, the sweet successes and the bitter ones that got away," he said.

"At the start, I had little and knew even less. I feel incredibly fortunate to have owned many beautiful paintings and deepened my knowledge of many exceptional artists. Their works have given me great pleasure, and many others who have enjoyed those that were in The K Club.

"The time has now come for me to pass some of them on and I have decided therefore to put them to auction. I hope others will be able to gain the same excitement and joy from them as I have done."

The 83 year old's collection features many of Ireland’s most famous artists and iconic pieces including Louis le Brocquy’s Travelling Woman with Newspaper, which is estimated to bring between €786,000 and €1,123,000.

Other items include William Conor’s depiction of the Dublin Horse Show at the Royal Dublin Society, worth over €100,000 and Frederick William Burton’s A Blind Girl at a Holy Well from 1839, which was engraved by The Royal Irish Art Union and became one of the most popular engraved images of its time.

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Louis le Brocquy's 'Travelling Woman with Newspaper', oil on board, 1947-48, estimated at £700,000 to £1,000,000  (€786,000 to €1,123,000)

Louis le Brocquy's 'Travelling Woman with Newspaper', oil on board, 1947-48, estimated at £700,000 to £1,000,000 (€786,000 to €1,123,000)

Louis le Brocquy's 'Travelling Woman with Newspaper', oil on board, 1947-48, estimated at £700,000 to £1,000,000 (€786,000 to €1,123,000)

Other highlights include Alexej von Jawlensky’s Abend in Reichestshausen and Sir Alfred Munning’s The New Standard, Presentation of Standards 1927. Decorative objects are also represented, including a 9ct gold replica of the Ardagh Chalice.

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Carl Larsson's 'Cock-a-doodle-do' which along with, 'It’s seven o’clocki and iSay Hello to the Gentleman!', is estimated to fetch between £150,000 and £200,000 (€168,000 and €225,000) each

Carl Larsson's 'Cock-a-doodle-do' which along with, 'It’s seven o’clocki and iSay Hello to the Gentleman!', is estimated to fetch between £150,000 and £200,000 (€168,000 and €225,000) each

Carl Larsson's 'Cock-a-doodle-do' which along with, 'It’s seven o’clocki and iSay Hello to the Gentleman!', is estimated to fetch between £150,000 and £200,000 (€168,000 and €225,000) each

Arabella Bishop, Head of Sotheby’s Ireland, commented: “Many of the works in this collection will be familiar to us from the walls of The K Club and, together with those from Sir Michael’s private residence, it is a great honor for us to offer a collection of this calibre at auction.

"One of my earliest memorable moments at Sotheby’s was our Irish Art sale in 2000 which saw the record price for Louis le Brocquy’s Travelling Woman with Newspaper, an iconic image by one of Ireland’s leading artists.

"The works being offered in the Irish Art sales over the next year are by Ireland’s greatest painters – Jack B. Yeats, Sir William Orpen, Sir John Lavery, Louis le Brocquy, amongst others. It is a market that was catapulted onto a global platform in the 1990s by advocates such as Sir Michael, who has played a key role in bestowing Irish artists with the reputation they deserved and still deserve today.

"We hope these Irish artists, together with the works in other categories, will appeal and excite collectors worldwide.”

Online Editors