Meet The Women Behind Art$ummit Ireland

Now in its second year, Art$ummit Ireland is the only art conference of its kind on the Irish calendar. Co-founded by Rosanne McDonnell, Art$ummit brings together some of the biggest names on the Irish art scene, including a number of trailblazing women, to explore the intricacies of the sector and discuss issues surrounding art investment and wealth management.

Rosanne McDonnell

Solicitor, passionate Irish art advocate and co-founder of Art$ummit Ireland.


photo by Alan Place

As a solicitor, I am employed as a consultant by law firms to advise them on legal matters specific to art transactions. Education and research are a big part of my consultancy, I travel all over the world to attend conferences on the subject and have written a number of papers in legal journals about various aspects of art law.

There is more to investing in art than raising a paddle at an auction. The business, tax and legal issues surrounding art collecting, and in turn wealth management, are complex and important. For this reason, Art$ummit Ireland aims to gather a wide variety of industry experts to come and share their extensive knowledge. This year, Art$ummit Ireland took place at The Merrion Hotel with a series of panel discussions focusing on the best strategies to protect and grow an art collection, with experts in the field advising on savvy investment, inheritance and tax issues.

Before we launched Art$ummit Ireland there was no established conference in Ireland that focused on the business of art. I knew that there was huge talent and knowledge in Ireland and I wanted to bring all these wonderful people together in one room in an independent forum, where the only agenda was to listen, learn and create a conversation about Ireland in terms of its business and cultural infrastructures surrounding artist and collector development.

I am keen to change the perception that art collecting is an activity confined to a small segment of society, it is, in fact, open to all people whatever your budget. Collecting art is important on an emotional and cultural level and is vital in terms of supporting artists’ livelihoods so that they can continue to create more work.

One of the major highlights of launching Art$ummit was the wealth of positive feedback we received from guests and panellists who all seemed to really appreciate the opportunity to broaden their network in a lovely warm environment. They said they came away with a more open perspective on the art market. I believe we will see more people investing time and money into Ireland's artists and also reaping the rewards from same on so many levels.



Independent arts advisor and valuer

photo by Patricio Cassinoni

I began my career in the art industry with Adams Auctioneers on St. Stephen’s Green almost 17 years ago now. They gave me a job as an assistant in the Fine Art Department and having initially intended to stay for a year, I stayed for almost a decade! I then went on to work with gallerist Oliver Sears, before setting up the Irish office for Bonhams International Auctioneers and Valuers. It was this career step that gave me the confidence to start a business of my own.

I launched my own private consultancy service in 2017 where I specialise in the private sale of paintings, sculpture, furniture and works of art. I also advise clients on placing works appropriately for sale by auction; with the best auction house for the particular work of art in question, in order to realise the best value in the market. I offer valuation services for open-market, insurance and tax purposes and also advise on aspects of collecting, usually for private clients who wish to start collections or enhance existing ones.

This year at the Art$ummit conference I focused on the importance of transparency and regulation in the art market. I also talked about aspects of maintaining value in an art collection; what drives certain areas of the market, and the differences and similarities in the approach taken by collectors and investors. I think the conference provides a unique opportunity for professional people from diverse areas of the art industry to share their experiences, opinions and knowledge; I also think that it provides a valuable opportunity for people working in industries on the periphery of the art market to add their insights, and become involved in an exchange of thoughts.


In respect of going out on my own, I would say that while the absence of a steady income stream can be unnerving, owning and pioneering your personal brand is the most rewarding and joyful thing I’ve done in my career to date. I never stop working, but my work is so diverse and invariably involves dealing with really great objects and some amazing people, often at the same time, so it is just an integral part of my life. In fact, I think that’s it: when you work for yourself in an industry that you’re passionately involved in, almost everything you do can be work-related, but rather than this being onerous, it’s a real privilege.


Deputy Director, Valuation Manager Sotheby’s London

Having joined Sotheby’s in 2015 I manage large volume, multi-category, sometimes multi-location, valuations. Every scenario is different: it could be a collection in a Mayfair flat consisting solely of contemporary art, or it could be an Irish castle crammed full of Old Masters, furniture, silver, porcelain and more, assembled over the generations by the same family.

Each valuation starts with a reconnaissance visit – it’s very important to assess what the collection consists of and what the client’s requirements actually are. Following the visit I can work out how long it will take to complete the valuation and which specialist colleagues to involve. I then return to the property with a full expert team to inspect each relevant object. After we have carried out all the necessary research post-visit, the eventual document is essentially a bespoke catalogue of that client’s collection with everything fully listed, illustrated and valued.


I was delighted to be involved in the inaugural Art$ummit conference in 2016 at Dromoland Castle. I contributed to The Business Dynamics of an Art Collection panel discussion focussing on the valuation process. There are many reasons why a client may need their collection valued: it could be for insurance purposes, for family division, to carry out a Capital Acquisitions Tax assessment following a death, for sale at auction, etc. A valuation can prompt wider discussions regarding collection management: i.e. acquisition or sale strategies, re-framing, restoration, help with exhibition loans, etc.

I can see that ArtSummit Ireland has brought a sense of celebration and recognition to the Irish art scene. We have wonderful public art collections and academic expertise here in Ireland. Art$ummit gathered the foremost Irish museum curators, art historians and writers, gallerists, art advisors and auctioneers together in one room so the debate was cross-pollinated with many informed points of view. We should recognise Ireland’s place in the international art market: Irish art sales at Sotheby’s in 2017 totalled €4.4 million, over 1,800 people registered to bid in the Yeats Family Collection auction, and designers such as Joseph Walsh now transcend Irish-themed sales attracting international collectors as per our October Design auction where one of his pieces sold for a record £93,750.

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