The Alfred Bilan mural that Granby put up at auction on Saturday has yet to find a buyer and can be demolished at the same time as the old St.Patrick’s school on which it was installed.
Although there was a record number of 400 participants in auctions held online by the IEGOR Auction House, none of them placed a bid for this work by the famous Quebec painter, whose auction was launched for $ 5,000.
“This is something collectors are not looking for. You need people interested in heritage, and there is not much,” said auctioneer Igor de Saint-Hippolyte, who ran this auction.
In addition, the large costs of removing the work from its support, which must be borne by the buyers, diminished their appetite for this 1958 “ceramic mosaic mural”.
Mr de Saint-Hippolyte estimates the costs to remove the mural at around $ 50,000, while an expert report from the Center for Maintenance of Quebec (CCQ), commissioned by Granby, estimates these costs at $ 56,000. The amount is large because the presence of asbestos in the walls of the building makes the work more complicated. According to CCQ, between $ 50,000 and $ 65,000 must be added to get it back.
With these sums so high, Granby decided to auction the work as the building at 142 Dufferin Street it’s on must be demolished this spring. If there were no buyers, this mural would likely have been destroyed at the same time as the building that now houses the MRC de la Haute-Yamaska buildings.
Igor de Saint-Hippolyte is confident that will not happen. There is interest from institutions in this mural. I am even in conversations with some of them. It is inconceivable that this mural has been demolished. It is a heritage masterpiece.
For his part, Laurier Lacroix, art historian and professor emeritus at the University of Quebec in Montreal, still hopes the city will reverse its decision.
Since there are no buyers, the city has time to reconsider its decision and think of solutions. Perhaps the city can pay a demolition fee and temporarily store it while building another building. “
Murmur in the population
The auction of this mural, which stands three by two meters, has sparked discontent in society in recent weeks. Representatives of the cultural sector, citizen groups and the Haut Yamaska Historical Society challenged the city’s decision.
“This work is part of our heritage, and it is deeply rooted in our history.” Cecilia Capucci, Executive Director of the Hot Yamaska Historical Society, said she regretted the city’s decision which was extremely disappointing.
The majestic mural of Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, was painted by Alfred Bellan for a school that welcomed the Irish Catholic community to Granby.
“This mural is very representative of his work. There is not a lot of public works by Bellan. Granby is lucky to have two and I would find it a shame to destroy one of them,” Laurier Lacroix concluded.