Republican News · Thursday 25 May 2000

[An Phoblacht]

O'Reilly's in the Monet

It seems that the seven or eight-figure wage packet, the luxury baronial country castle and multiple homes dotted around the world are not enough for Ireland's super rich elite. Now and again you have to splash out a bit on patronising the arts and struggling artists, particularly if they are dead ones.

Michael Smurfit has an unparalleled collection of Jack Butler Yeats paintings. Martin Naughton, chairperson of Glen Dimplex, some of whose workers were in dispute with him earlier this year over pay below the now national minimum wage, has a passion for collecting paintings by the late Roderick O'Connor, among other artists.

However, all of these pale into insignificance compared to former Bean King himself Tony O'Reilly. O'Reilly has splashed out $24.5 million dollars on a Monet titled Le Portail (Soleil). The picture is one of a series Monet completed of the front of Rouen Cathedral.

O'Reilly, who regularly tops those annoying rich lists so beloved by the Sunday Times and Sunday Tribune, will obviously not be stuck for the few million to pay for his latest acquisition. He also has paintings by Yeats, Turner, Picasso, Matisse and Orpen.

However, judging by the wage increases Independent News and Media's executive directors paid themselves last year, O'Reilly will be well able to add to his impressive art collection. Now departed from the chief executive job at Heinz, O'Reilly is devoting all his energy to the Independent group. The nine executive directors enjoyed average increases of 35% in salaries and bonuses in 1999. The nine took home average salaries of 202,000 in 1999 as well as average bonuses of 123,000.

While these sums would not buy a Picasso or a Monet, they are well capable of covering the cost of a Paul Henry and your bus fare home. The rest of us will have to manage with the framed print for now or the occasional visit to the National Gallery.

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