Warhol's $600,000 Dollar Sign offers respite for Irish banking crisis

A $600,000-valued Andy Warhol is among the highlights of an Irish financial agency's attempt to recoup losses accrued in the financial crisis.

National Asset Management Agency (NAMA), the so-called "bad bank", has enlisted the help of Christie's to sell 14 notable artworks commandeered from a bankrupt property developer.

One of Warhol's several Dollar Sign works, painted in the early 1980s, will be auctioned in New York on November 9 with a $400,000 to $600,000 estimate, a valuation that could be on the low side considering previous sales.

Andy Warhol Dollar Sign
A Warhol Dollar Sign sold for $5.1m at Christie’s in 2010

A 1981 Dollar Sign sold for $5.1m at a Christie's New York auction in November 2010.

The sale, which is sure to attract art collectors looking for a bargain, will also feature the 1998 piece Ace Airport by Alex Katz, estimated at $150,000 and $200,000.

The remainder of the 14 seized artworks, including a Jack B Yeats piece appropriately named Man Doing Accounts, will be sold in London on November 17.

It is hoped the sale will raise more than $2.2m.

The works are thought to have once belonged to property tycoon Derek Quinlan, who bought many of the pieces shortly before the global financial crisis of 2008.

He is just one of several debtors to Irish banks, unable to pay back their loans.

Irish authorities established NAMA in 2009 to recoup losses accrued by banks that are owed large sums of money by property developers.

"This is the first time NAMA has put up for auction art of a debtor," Ray Gordon, a spokesman for NAMA, told Bloomberg.

"It's not expected to be the last time."


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