A number of important pieces of Irish furniture are included in the forthcoming Collection of Lord and Lady Weinstock sale through Christie’s in London on November 22nd.
Orphaned at the age of 11, Arnold Weinstock, the son of Polish immigrants, went on to become Britain’s premier post-second World War industrialist as managing director of the General Electric Company, which became a billion-pound conglomerate at its peak, employing 250,000 workers.
The company dominated the UK engineering, electronics and communications industries, and the fact that Britain has a world-class, research-based defence industry is attributed to what his obituary in The Guardian in 2002, refers to as “his precocious skills”.
He became a trusted counsellor to four British prime ministers, from Harold Wilson to Margaret Thatcher over the course of three decades, and co-owned Ballymacoll Stud in Co Meath.
Along with father-in-law Michael Sobell, he purchased the 294-acre stud farm in Dunboyne for £250,000 in 1960. It sold in 2018 for €8.15m and is believed to have been purchased by Frank Dunne of Dunnes Stores, as his Hamwood Stud neighbours Ballymacoll.
Though Arkle was possibly the most famous horse to have been born at the world-renowned equine farm, the racehorse Troy was also a contender, winning the 200th Derby in 1979, before being put out to syndicate by the Queen Elizabeth’s racing manager for what was a record figure at that time, £7.2m.
Catalogue notes suggest that the late monarch was also fan of the farm: “Ballymacoll became so celebrated that it was the envy of the entire racing world, even her late majesty, Queen Elizabeth II”.
The stud farm became a lucrative project renowned for breeding top-class bloodstock for more than half a century. It bred 30 individual Group One winners, including Sun Princess, Conduit and Spectrum.
The farm held a special place in Weinstock’s heart, as his only son Simon, who died from cancer aged 44, was said to adore Ballymacoll; he was a shareholder and had an active role in its management.
A pair of George III gilt-brass mounted kingwood, cross banded walnut tulipwood and fruitwood marquetry pier tables are one of the highlights of the sale, along with John Frederick Herring Snr’s The Start of the Goodwood Gold Cup (£250,000–£350,000).
The tables, expected to fetch between £100,000 and £150,000(€120,000–€170,000), are thought to have been supplied to Francis Thomas Fitzmaurice, third Earl of Kerry for his house, Prior Park near Bath circa 1768. They are attributed to cabinetmakers Ince and Mayhew. Fitzmaurice was one of the makers’ most important clients as “he embarked on a career of almost unparalleled extravagance”, according to catalogue notes.
He acquired three houses in rapid succession in England which he bought, furnished and sold on before decamping to France in 1777. A process known today as “house flipping”.
A set of four George IV gilt bronze wine coolers from circa 1820 in the manner of Rundell, Bridge and Rundell bear the coat of arms of the Marquess of Sligo as they were commissioned by either John Denis Browne, 1st Marquess, or his son Howe Peter Browne, 2nd Marquess, for their home at Westport House in Co Mayo; the celebrated Richard Cassels designed estate often called the Ireland’s Most Beautiful Home (£20,000–£30,000/€23,000–€34,000).
A pair of George III gilt wood chairs from circa 1775 attributed to Thomas Chippendale Junior, were owned by Sir Richard Worsley of the Isle of Wight (£20,000–£30,000/€23,000–€34,000).
They date from the time that Worsley married Seymour Dorothy Fleming, daughter of Irishman John Fleming. While Worsley may be remembered for his sumptuous pile Appuldurcombe House and his noted collection of antiques, his legacy is more linked to the “criminal conversation” case he brought against his wife’s lover Maurice Bisset, who had fathered a child with her.
In the 1700s “conversation” was a euphemism for sexual intercourse, and he sued Bisset for the princely sum of £20,000 (or almost €3 million today). She, however, included testimonies from not only her doctor but a string of paramours, and convinced the jury her husband was an accessory to her adultery (she had 27 lovers) as he had displayed her naked at a bathhouse in Maidstone. The testimony destroyed the suit and in a way his reputation, as he was awarded just a shilling in damages.
A number of works in the sale have a direct link to Ballymacoll, in the form of racing trophies and equine memorabilia including the Magnet Cup 1965, the Tote Gold Trophy 1999 (£7,000–£10,000/€8,000–€11,000) and the Sandown Park Whitsun Cup, 1963 – which is an impressive and elaborate George V silver cup and cover (£600–£800/€690–€910).
An Irish silver chamberstick with the mark of Stephen Bergin, Dublin 1822 is also offered, along with three George III silver tapersticks (£1,500–£2,500/€1,800–€2,900). christies.com