All of the sumptuous finery and extraordinary riches of a London home described as the ‘Downton Abbey of our times’ are to go under the hammer at Sotheby’s in a giant two-day sale of the Collection of Lord Ballyedmond later this month.
Lord Ballyedmond, who died in a helicopter crash at his Norfolk estate in 2014, was an Irish peer and multi-millionaire whose extraordinary London home formed the backdrop to life at the highest level of British society. The collection stands as testament to his unerring eye as a collector, displaying a lifelong passion for the finest art and antiques, with a rare attention to detail. Around 700 objects, spanning over 400 years, will be offered at Sotheby’s London on 23 and 24 May, with the majority drawn from a magnificent townhouse on London’s Belgrave Square.
Born in Kilcurry, County Louth, Ireland, Lord Ballyedmond rose from humble beginnings to make his fortune founding and steering to extraordinary success the Norbrook Group, a pharmaceutical company based in Newry, Northern Ireland. Equally influential in the world of politics as he was in
business, Lord Ballyemond is renowned as only the second person in history – after the Marquess of Lansdowne in the 1920s – to have sat in the upper houses of both the British and Irish parliaments. His standing was such that the United States government was amongst the many to pay tribute to his remarkable accomplishments: “His achievements brought significant employment to Northern Ireland and other places around the world, while his philanthropic endeavours helped improve the quality of life of countless others.”
Inspired by the Regency and the neoclassical designs of British architect, Robert Adam and entranced by the salons of 18th-century London, Lord Ballyedmond transformed a once dormant property on one of London’s most prestigious squares into a modern evocation of a great Georgian town house, specifically designed to entertain on an ambassadorial scale. The collection presented here was the fruit of selective and judicious collecting, both at auction and from dealers, with an unmatched attention to the finest of details. Paintings, tapestries, porcelain, silver and furniture were all thoughtfully put together to create something which would enthrall and delight visitors to Belgrave Square.
Harry Dalmeny, Sotheby’s UK Chairman, said: “This collection is typically extraordinary; typical for an extraordinary man who accepted no boundaries in business, politics, art and friendship. Belgrave Square was where his ambition as a collector reached its zenith; this was the seat for a salon, where politicians and potentates from all sides of everything would find a home together at the dinner table.”