A portrait of Boyzone's Ronan Keating in a red cocktail dress has been sold by a Dublin art gallery to a mystery buyer.
Painted by Greystones artist Tom Byrne, the canvas first featured in the Irish Independent last Saturday.
However, one buyer was in such a hurry to take the painting off the market last Saturday morning that they contacted the sellers, Dublin's Apollo Gallery, within minutes of opening on Saturday to purchase the canvas for €800.
"It's pretty unusual for someone to buy a painting in this manner. They bought it over the phone and, which surprised me even more, the buyer didn't ask to view the painting before they made the purchase," said artist Mr Byrne.
"All in all, I'd have to say the sale happened in very mysterious circumstances and I'm quite surprised."
However, a figure in the art trade said it was "common" for controversial pictures such as this, involving well-known figures, to be sold in such circumstances.
"The quick sale of a picture like this takes it off the market, which means it's unlikely to be featured in the media again. Very often, that's what's intended," said the source, who works extensively in the art business.
Both The Apollo Gallery, which is based on Dublin's Dawson Street, and Byrne have refused to disclose the identity of the purchaser.
But Tom Byrne (47), whose work features in the collections of Bono of U2 and comedian Dara O'Briain, did explain the background to the painting.
"I painted Ronan Keating in a dress because I think he needs to get in contact with his feminine side to understand how seriously women take relationships. I do hope himself and his wife Yvonne get back together," said Byrne.
Ronan and Yvonne Keating announced the end of their 12-year marriage earlier this month, but are said to be in talks to repair their relationship.
Source Irish Independent