Riverdance King Michael Flatley Crowned One of Ireland’s Most Expensive Painters


Irish dancer Michael Flatley is now one of Ireland’s most expensive artists at auction.
Image via: MichaelFlatley.com

The Irish Times and other media outlets, including Irish Central, are reporting—somewhat breathlessly—that top tapper Michael Flatley of Riverdance and Lord of the Dance fame has become one of the most expensive artists at auction in Ireland “this year, so far at least.” (See We Rank 16 Celebrities Aspiring to Art World Recognition, Who Will Win?)

Flatley, the often-dramatic performer who helped turned Irish stepdancing into a worldwide phenomenon in the mid-1990s, is also a painter. Following in the footsteps—literally—of other performers-turned-artists (see Miley Cyrus Takes Art Basel Thanks to Jeffrey Deitch and Bob Dylan Gets Bridgehampton Gallery Show), he creates works on canvas with his famous tapping feet.

At a recent Dublin auction held by auctioneer Morgan O’Driscoll of Cork, Ireland, two works by Flatley sold for a total of $128,000. These included The Power, with splashes of orange on a black background, that sold for €77,500 ($83,700) on an estimate of €70–90,000, and Flight of the Quetzal, which sold for €44,000 ($47,500) on an estimate of €40–50,000. The paintings were the top performers at the April 20 Irish & International Art Auction.

Michael Flatley, The Power (n.d.) sold for €77,500 at an April 20 auction in Dublin. Image: Courtesy Morgan O'Driscoll Auctions, Cork, Ireland.

Michael Flatley, The Power (n.d.) sold for €77,500 at an April 20 auction in Dublin.
Image: Courtesy Morgan O’Driscoll, Cork, Ireland.

According to the artnet Price Database, four of Flatley’s painting, including these, have been offered at auction. Rossmore Island, was sold at Sheppards Irish Auction House in Dublin in December 2014 for €22,500 ($27,974) on an estimate of €20–30,000, and another of his untitled works was sold, also at Sheppards, in December 2011, as part of a charity auction for €5,600 ($7,306).

According to the Irish Times, the “results show that Flatley is now second only to Jack Butler Yeats in the list of the highest prices for paintings achieved at auction in Ireland thus far in 2015.” After the auction, Flatley told the Irish Times he was “very happy with the result” and “delighted that people seemed to enjoy” his work.

Irish Central ponders whether the dancer, who recently announced his retirement, has a second career ahead of him as a painter. His canvases undoubtedly received a boost after auctioneer Morgan O’Driscoll appeared with the works on a late night talk show in Ireland.


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