Sale: Lyons Demesne: Works of art from the collection of the late Dr Tony Ryan

Location: Christie’s, 8 King Street, London SW1 tel +44 (0)20 7839 1611

Date: Thursday (July 14). On view Sunday, 2pm-5pm; Monday 9am-4.30pm; Tuesday, 9am-8pm; Wednesday 9am-4.30pm. Catalogue on line at

Need to know: Lyons Demesne was a grand house in a very sorry state when it was bought by the late airline tycoon Tony Ryan in 1996. The architectural gem at Ardclough, Co Kildare was commissioned by the first Lord Cloncurry from architect Oliver Grace in 1797 and had been among Ireland’s finest houses until it became a satellite of University College, Dublin, which carved up its great rooms for use as laboratories.

But Ryan, the billionaire co-founder of Ryanair, was undaunted by the prospect of restoring the house and employed a crack team of architects, builders and craftsmen to return it to its former glory in less than three years. All that the philanthropist and patron of the arts had to do after that was to fill the house with the appropriate paintings and furniture – this 400-lot sale comprises a relatively small selection of what he amassed prior to his death in 2007.

Highlights: With estimates ranging from £300-£300,000, the sale is expected to realise more than £2m and is led by an impressive 18th-century pastel portrait of Arthur Hill, second Marquess of Downshire, drawn by Hugh Douglas Hamilton. Ryan bought it at a Christie’s sale in 2000 for £377,750. In the same year, he paid £91,750 for a set of six Louis XV giltwood fauteuils which are now on offer at £40,000- £60,000 while a Joshua Reynolds portrait of a woman, bought at Sotheby’s in 1999 for £140,000, is now estimated at £50,000- £80,000. Elsewhere, the sale is replete with a diverse array of objects priced in the mid-range, including a large bird cage in the form of a 17th-century mansion (£10,000-£15,000), drawings by Sir Edwin Landseer, Samuel Laurence and Augustus John, four-poster beds, painted furniture, longcase clocks and marble sculptures – in short, all the essentials for decorating a magnificent country house.

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