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So naturally when his important early oil Entrance of the Dark Wind (Khyber Pass, Dalkey 1942) came up at the Dublin rooms of Whyte’s (15 per cent buyer’s premium) on March 13, auctioneer Ian Whyte was hoping the IR£50,000-70,000 estimate would be eclipsed.

Sadly this was not to be, as there were a number of external factors weighing against the 23 by 14in (60 x 36cm) signed oil on board shown right which was consigned by a private Irish collector now living in America who bought it for IR£650 at the 1976 Dawson Gallery exhibition of the artist’s work.

It bore le Brocquy’s notes to the backboard but it was fairly untypical of le Brocquy’s oeuvre. An abstract image, the predominantly white picture depicts Khyber Pass the one-time home of Major Brian Cooper, in the smart Dublin suburb of Dalkey.

The image may have been unusual but the main problems were factors wholly unconnected with art – the foot-and-mouth epidemic with all the disrupted transport which deterred a number of potential buyers from across the Border, and the sudden instability of the New York stockmarket which always causes American wallets to seize up.

However the picture, in ‘as new’ condition, still attracted sufficient interest to bring IR£66,000 (£50,770) from a Dublin dealer thought to be bidding on behalf of a client.

Exchange rate: £1 = IR£1.3