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Denis O'Brien is to purchase a €2.5 million painting and donate it to the state

The painting is part of the Russborough House collection which has been the subject of much controversy over the last six months.

head The Head of a Bearded Man by Peter Paul Rubens Source: Christie's Screengrab

DENIS O’BRIEN IS set to spend €2.5 million on a rare painting and then donate it to the Irish state.

The painting formed part of the Russborough House collection which formed part of a controversial proposed auction from Christie’s in London earlier this year.

Official confirmation of the proposed purchase could not be obtained, however it is understood that the deal will happen and that the painting is the Head of a Bearded Man by Peter Paul Rubens.

That painting had an estimated value of between €2.9 and €4.3 million at the Christie’s pre-auction.

13/11/2014 Get Health Summits Denis O'Brien Source:

Should the purchase take place the painting will be donated to the National Gallery.

If the painting is approved for donation the donor can recoup 80% of the costs, or €2 million in this case.

A spokesperson for the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht told that the purchase of one painting, A Village Kermesse near Antwerp by David Teniers II (valued at €2 million) had been approved for donation to the Gallery.

village A Village Kermesse Near Antwerp by David Teniers II Source: Christie's Screengrab

It’s understood that the buyer of that painting is John Gallagher, a businessman involved with the Bord Gáis Theatre in Dublin.

Two other paintings are currently being assessed, the aforementioned Rubens painting and Adoration of the Shepherds by Adriaen van Ostade. That process is not yet complete.

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“The Minister is pleased that this approach (of postponing the Christie’s auction) has proven successful and that as a result a number of the paintings will remain in Ireland, in the National Gallery, once the Section 1003 process is complete,” the spokesperson said.

The sale of the Alfred Beit collection from Russborough House was part of the mooted Christie’s auction scheduled for early last summer.

After much objection, the auction was postponed to give Irish buyers the option to purchase the paintings in order to keep them within the state.

Two of the nine paintings had already been sold.

Head of a Bearded Man was the top lot at the proposed auction.

Read: Christie’s formally withdraws Russborough paintings from auction

Read: The Beit paintings should not have been allowed to leave Ireland

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