herald

Wednesday 23 January 2019

Art dealer values nude Cowen pictures at €5,000

The controversial nude paintings of Taoiseach Brian Cowen could fetch €5,000 each at auction.

Dublin art dealer Ian Whyte of Whyte's Art Auction House has revealed that any future paintings by the artist Conor Casby (34) are likely to go for between €500 and €1,500.

"Originally when I saw the pieces in the papers, I thought they had been placed in the galleries as a stunt by a professional artist," he said.

"If it was a political protest, then it was a particularly potent one.

"This is not the kind of art we would normally auction. But if he wishes us to auction the pieces for charity then we would certainly do so," he added.

Meanwhile the artist behind the controversy is spending time with his family outside of Dublin.

"I'm with my family and I need to spend time with them," Mr Casby said.

"I have been advised that I cannot say anything about the paintings while I'm being investigated," he said.

Auction

He added that he had been in contact with his solicitor Paddy Goodwin and he had discussed a possible auction with him.

Drogheda-based Mr Goodwin said: "In all fairness, what harm has my client done? I'd be amazed if charges arise out of this. The whole thing is crazy.

"But I will say this: if they do, I'm a very experienced criminal lawyer and I'm looking forward with relish to defending this."

However senior sources have indicated that any prosecution is extremely unlikely.

The paintings of the Taoiseach appeared in the National Gallery and the Royal Hibernian Academy gallery around three weeks ago.

In one, Mr Cowen was depicted holding his underpants, and a toilet roll in the other.

The furore surrounding the stunt escalated following an RTE apology for a news report on the display.

Complaint

Both RTE and the Government maintained the broadcaster had decided to apologise for the nature of a television news report on the paintings before a complaint was received from the Taoiseach's office.

Mr Casby works on an inner-city Dublin Schools Completion Project.

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