| 15.8°C Dublin

JP proves to be big draw at racing charity auction

WITH his bag overflowing with cash and the bookmakers fleeing in all directions, no doubt fearful of where he'll place his next bet, it's hardly surprising that JP McManus "gets a kick out of" this cartoon portrait of him.

Billionaire businessman Dermot Desmond seems to have gotten something of a kick out "JP Cleaning out the Bookmakers" too, judging by the £65,000 (€75,645) he paid for it two weeks ago in an auction at the 15th annual Peter O'Sullevan Award Lunch in London's five-star Dorchester Hotel.

Having known Mr McManus for over 20 years now, the cartoon's creator, Waterford-born artist Peter Curling, has certainly developed a keen appreciation of what makes the Swiss-based tycoon tick.

Indeed, in this picture, Mr McManus's renowned love of horseracing and gambling sits neatly alongside all the places the globetrotting businessman calls home.

Included in these are a Swiss flag to denote his residency in Geneva, a sticker for the Sandy Lane Hotel in Barbados which he owns along with Coolmore Stud chief John Magnier and Dermot Desmond, as well as tags for London's Dorchester Hotel and Murphy's Bar in Limerick.

Also included in the picture are front pages from the Limerick Leader and the Racing Post, carrying headlines that read "Massive Gamble Landed" and "JP Hits Bookies Again" respectively.

Asked by the Sunday Independent what it has been like to work with Mr McManus as a subject, Curling -- who is better known for his more serious equine art -- said: "He's very easy-going and nice and quite happy to go along with what I suggest in cartoons. He gets a kick out of them. I think he's very easy going, and Dermot [Desmond] is as well."

While the caricature's €75,645 price tag might seem excessive in the current economic climate, all proceeds are going towards horseracing charities supported by the Sir Peter O'Sullevan Charitable Trust, named in honour of the legendary BBC racing commentator. Not that Mr Desmond was the biggest spender at the lunch and auction. That distinction went to Mr McManus himself after he outbid rivals with an eye-watering £80,000 (€93,000) for a round of golf with golfer Lee Westwood.

Coolmore Stud, meanwhile, paid £22,000 (€25,600) for artist Terence Gilbert's painting of Queen Elizabeth's visit to the stud last May.

All in all, the nine lots at the auction which was presided over by Goffs' Nick Nugent raised a total of £238,000 (€277,000). Donations given subsequently at the lunch brought the total amount raised to £250,000 (€291,000).

Sunday Independent