Representatives of the Alfred Beit Foundation, including its Chairman Judith Woodworth and board members Klaus Unger and Adrian Masterson, met the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Ms Heather Humphreys TD. The meeting was requested by the Foundation to update the Minister.
The Foundation explained to the Minister that it needs to create an endowment fund of up to 15m to ensure the long term viability of Russborough
. It was originally intended to sell certain paintings as a mechanism for raising these funds. At the Ministers request and of heritage groups who asked for more time for fundraising, it was decided to defer the sale to December 2015 in order to explore donations under the S1003 tax scheme.
The Foundation briefed the Minister that talks are continuing with a donor about the possible purchase of one or more of the paintings which may then be donated to the National Gallery of Ireland. The Foundation advised the Minister that it is still faced with the challenge as to how to raise its full endowment fund if the future of Russborough, Irelands premier 18th Century Palladian house, and its estate are to be protected in the long term. Without the sale of the paintings and the creation of the endowment fund, the board told the Minister it will, in time, have to start planning for the ultimate closure of Russborough as its funds are dwindling and its financial position is precarious.
The Foundation asked the Minister if she could indicate the States capacity to financially support Russborough. The board asked if she would pursue with her Cabinet colleagues the restoration of the full tax provision for purchasers of art for donation to the State. It has been reduced from 100 per cent to 80 per cent which is, in the boards view, discouraging interest from potential donors. The Foundation impressed on the Minister the urgent need for decisions.