Monday 22nd June 2015
The Alfred Beit Foundation has received a generous proposal on behalf of some private Irish donors for the possible purchase of artworks which are in the upcoming Christie’s sale.
In order to explore this promising offer and conscious of the request of the Minister for the Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys for a postponement, I have taken the decision to propose to the ABF board that the sale is postponed, that the Foundation enters into negotiations with Christies to arrange that and remove the artworks from the July sale. A meeting of the Foundation to consider this will be held as soon as it can be arranged.
The Alfred Beit Foundation has been acutely conscious of the concern of the public and the comments made since the sale was announced. Equally, and from the outset of our fundraising actions in 2013 when we first informed Government, the Foundation has remained open to considering very fully any new proposal or option which might emerge. We continue to work to identify any proposal which could produce a funding source for the future maintenance and upkeep of Russborough and also meet the public’s understandable desire to keep the works in Ireland.
As we have explained to Government, our stakeholders and in our statements, Russborough has run out of resources. The Foundation had to take the regrettable decision to sell assets, as Sir Alfred and Lady Beit had to before us.
The perilous financial status of Russborough and the growing need to fund repairs, restoration and improvements to the fabric of the building and surrounding grounds make it imperative to raise substantial funds. Russborough requires a robust endowment of up to €15 million in order to underpin its long term financial stability, as well as continuous capital investment.
The Foundation calls on Government, our local TDs including Minister of State Simon Harris who is responsible for the Office of Public Works and all those concerned about heritage to constructively support Russborough in finding a solution. The reality for the Foundation is that if the current proposal or other proposals do not reach a satisfactory conclusion by October 2015 and Russborough is unable to raise the required funds, the Foundation may have no option but to resume the proposed sales so as to avoid a financial crisis at Russborough.