ESTIMATES ARE ALWAYS going to be a rough guide for people – but this painting proves just how wrong they can be.
This painting of Jesus Christ wearing a crown of thorns was estimated to sell for €500-€800.
But the auctioneer at Adam’s Auctioneers thought it might go for higher as there was increasing interest: with buyers over the phone and online lining up beforehand.
So he started the bidding at €500.
“I brought the hammer down on €120,000,” James O’ Halloran said, Managing Director at Adam’s Auctioneers. “It was very exciting.”
He explained to RTÉ News at One how unusual it is for the painting to go at such a high price:
It’s not a hugely attractive subject for most people, it’s quite gory, but one of the internet bidders pounced immediately and put in a bid of €2,000, and at that point I knew we’d get some degree of fireworks, but I certainly didn’t expect the bidding to continue to the extent that it did.
O’Halloran said he spotted the painting in a corridor of a building that was being cleared out by an institution.
The nickname ‘sleeper’ means an antique whose true value goes unrecognised for some time; O’Halloran says that they do come along every now and again.
“In this business, you don’t know everything and you can’t know everything and sometimes things turn up and somebody sees something else in it.”
To add to the drama of this extraordinary auction, neither of the two final bidders had seen the painting in person.
“To my knowledge, neither have seen the picture in the flesh, so to speak,” says O’Halloran.
There was a very strong Italian interest in the painting, but all we know about the painting’s final destination is that it’s not in Ireland.