Because of the huge interest this auction was moved from Adam's to the Shelbourne. I had to run the gauntlet of a few well-turned out protestors with uniformly well-produced posters, Ballagh's influence perhaps. He was (some would say is) a graphic designer. He was very vocal in his opposition to the auction. The posters suggested that in some way the auction was robbing the people of their national heritage. This is a nonsense. It both flatters the work on show and neglects the fact that the work was hardly accessible to the people when the BOI owned it. Anyway IMMA had their pick of the choice pieces.
Although we weren't told so beforehand, it quickly became apparent that there were no reserves. A unique situation at an Irish art auction. However, as the estimates were set very low, most pieces went for the upper side of the estimates with quite a lot exceeding this. And there was lots of competition for most pieces. There were bargains to be had - a dark Dan O'Neill estimated from €6 to €8 K went for €4.5 K - but not many. A Dillon estimated at €35 K went for €50 K and Martin Gale estimated at €6 K went for €14.5 K. Le Brocquy and O'Malley were quite weak - all of the O'Malleys going for below the lower estimate and the Le Brocquys just about making the lower estimate. The Campbells sold well, as did some very dodgy McSweeneys. A poor Shinnors piece limped towards the mid-point in its estimate.
The only painting that remained unsold was a reasonable Barrie Cooke landscape. A resounding success for Adams but not a typical auction as many were buying for the cachet of having a piece from the BOI collection.