Some people might say that NAMA itself is a performing art spectacle, for example when, as one state agency, it went to court earlier this year to reverse the decision of another state agency, the Information Commissioner with respect to her ruling that NAMA was a public body for the purposes of environmental requests. The case is still ongoing, but if you want to watch tens of thousands of euro of your money being burned on legal costs in a fight between two state agencies, you can just go down to the High Court later this year when the hearing resumes. But when it comes to more traditional art, NAMA has control over a valuable collection – or rather four collections valued at €7.5m. In addition it is overseeing the sale of a fifth collection, understood to be David Arnold’s and last year it flogged a number of paintings from Derek Quinlan’s collection which netted nearly €2m. One of the four collections still under NAMA’s control is understood to be the 400-piece Noel Smyth caboodle which some have dismissed as “a load of tat”.
Some of this information was revealed yesterday when the Fianna Fail finance spokesperson Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance Michael Noonan to provide details of NAMA’s art holdings – the full exchange is shown below. Deputy McGrath also asked about sales arrangements and you might recall that a number of Irish fine art auctioneers were unhappy when Derek Quinlan’s collection was given to Christie’s last year – which, incidentally did a decent enough job in two sales in London and New York, but the local auctioneers were up-in-arms at Irish paintings in particular being given to foreign auction houses to flog. However Minister Noonan was not biting on that lemon, and as with NAMA with the recently-announced sale of David Arnold’s collection, he body-swerved the question and said it was for the developers to sell their art and that NAMA merely oversaw the process.
With the remaining collections worth at least €7.5m, you can be sure you have not heard the last of local auctioneers clamouring for the business!
Deputy Michael McGrath: To ask the Minister for Finance if he will provide details of all items of art that have come under the control of National Asset Management Agency since the agency’s establishment including details of the number of such items; the estimated aggregate value and the number of NAMA debtors involved; the full details including proceeds of any sales of art that have been executed so far showing separately sales by NAMA and sales arranged by NAMA debtors with the agency’s consent; if he will provide details of the sales arrangements that have applied including tendering procedures and the name of any selling agents appointed by NAMA and by NAMA debtors with the consent of NAMA; and if he will provide details of any further plans the agency has for the disposal of any items of art under its control..
Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan: The Deputy will note that NAMA has acquired loans that are secured, in the vast majority of cases, by property assets, a detailed breakdown of which is available in NAMA’s Annual Report and Financial Statements 2011. NAMA advises that, in the case of debtors that it manages directly, the value of art that it currently holds as security for its loans is of the order of €7.5 million. This relates to four debtor connections. NAMA further advises that art belonging to a fifth debtor connection has been sold for an amount €1.9 million and that art belonging to a sixth debtor connection is currently on the market for sale. The Deputy will appreciate that it is not appropriate for commercial reasons to discuss the expected realised value of assets that are currently on the market.
The Deputy will be aware that NAMA does not own nor does it sell assets, including art, securing its loans. The sale of these assets is undertaken and managed by their owners or, in enforcement cases, on behalf of these owners by duly appointed Insolvency Officer Holders.
NAMA advises that the sale of art by debtors and Receivers/Administrators is conducted in accordance with the prevailing market practice for that asset and the jurisdiction to which the sale relates. The strategies adopted, including the engagement of selling agents, are designed in all cases to maximise the realised proceeds from the sale of the art.
I would also note that while it is the clear policy of NAMA itself to maximise the realised proceeds from all sales of assets securing its loans, it is also clearly in the absolute interest of NAMA debtors to maximise the realised proceeds from the sale of their assets in repayment of their debt. The Deputy will also note the legal, fiduciary and professional obligation on Insolvency Office Holders to maximise the realised proceeds from the sale of debtor assets
NAMA advises that sale arrangements applied for the disposal of art are a matter for debtors and appointed Receivers/Administrators in accordance with Agency guidelines and that it would not be appropriate for it to detail the future disposal strategies, including timelines, for the sale of art by debtors and Insolvency Office Holders.