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Saturday 20 January 2018

Yeats painting bought for £250 in 1940s fetches a record €1m

'A Fair Day, Mayo', by Jack B Yeats, once hung in the Suffolk Place offices of
Eamon de Valera when he was leader of the newly formed Fianna Fail party
'A Fair Day, Mayo', by Jack B Yeats, once hung in the Suffolk Place offices of Eamon de Valera when he was leader of the newly formed Fianna Fail party

Fiona Ellis

A JACK B Yeats masterpiece, bought for £250 almost seven decades ago, has sold for a record €1m at auction.

The spectacular oil painting titled 'A Fair Day, Mayo' smashed through its pre-sale estimate of between €500,000 and €800,000 last night at Adams' auction of Irish art and broke the record for the most expensive painting sold in the country.

The oil painting, depicting the hustle and bustle of a country fair, was painted in 1925 and once hung in the Suffolk Place offices of Eamon de Valera when he was leader of the newly formed Fianna Fail.

It was originally sold for £250 to Mr JP Reihill Snr in 1944 by Leo Smith, and remained within the Reihill family until now. It is the largest and most valuable work by the artist to appear on the market for many years.

Auctioneer James O'Halloran of Adams said the final price paid for the painting did not come as a surprise.

Pent-up

"There hasn't been a Yeats picture on the market for many years and there is a pent-up demand there for really exceptional Irish pictures.

"This was never on the market and had the connection of hanging on the walls of Dev's offices.

"It has everything going for it. It was great to see it being recognised for what it is."

He said the sale was also a welcome shot in the arm for the Irish art market.

Mr O'Halloran said the buyer would display the picture in his private home in Ireland and was an enthusiastic collector of high-end Irish art. A smaller Jack B Yeats painting entitled 'The Dawn' went for €80,000.

Meanwhile, a collection of GAA and sporting memorabilia smashed estimates last night at Mealy's auction of rare books, manuscripts and collectibles.

A programme from a 1978 rugby game where Munster beat the All-Blacks sold for €3,200, around €2,600 more than its top pre-sale estimate of €500 to €700.

Several lots of GAA medals also sold at auction for hundreds more than their estimates.

A baseball bat, gifted to hurling legend Tipperary's Frank McGrath, and used by the iconic baseball player Babe Ruth, was expected to sell this morning within its €4,000 to €5,000 estimate.

Irish Independent

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