DUBLIN: Ireland’s state-run “bad bank” auctioned works of art by the likes of Andy Warhol and Alex Katz after it put global auction house Christie’s in charge of a 14-painting collection valued at $2.8 million Monday.
Created to purge Irish banks of their risky real estate loans, the National Asset Management Agency is selling helicopters and private jets as well as skyscrapers and five-star hotels to try to claw back the 31 billion euros ($42.7 billion) it has shelled out for the loans.
NAMA’s chief executive said in July that the agency was getting tough on the lavish lifestyles of some of its debtors, many of whom became household names before a property crash brought Ireland’s “Celtic Tiger” economy to an abrupt end.
Christie’s said the collection – which includes Warhol’s “Dollar Sign” painting that it values at between $400,000 and $600,000 – belonged to one NAMA debtor and was being offered with the debtor’s cooperation.
The Irish Times newspaper reported last month that the collection was formerly owned by Derek Quinlan, an ex-tax inspector who went on to buy several of London’s top hotels, including the Savoy.
NAMA has seized control of a number a buildings belonging to Quinlan who also owned part of the Citigroup Tower in London’s Canary Wharf business district, which was put on the market earlier this year for more than 1 billion pounds ($1.6 billion).
A spokesman for NAMA said it would not comment on the identity of the debtor.
U.S. pop art painter Alex Katz’s “Ace Airport” will go under the hammer along with Warhol’s Dollar Sign in Christie’s New York auction room on Nov. 9 and is expected to fetch between $150,000 and $200,000.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on September 20, 2011, on page 16.