Row over surrender letter of Easter Rising rebel Patrick Pearse
The owner of Patrick Pearse's handwritten surrender letter has accused the Irish government of apathy over the unique 1916 artefact after it was taken out of the country.
The note, penned by the rebel leader in his prison cell to mark the end of the Rising, had been on display in the GPO in Dublin for over a year after a minister refused to pay the €1m valuation and then blocked its export.
The US-based owner, who wishes to remain anonymous, paid €800,000 for it at auction in 2006 but said his original motivation was to ensure it stayed in Ireland.
He also said he put it back up for sale only to recoup his investment.
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In a statement to the Press Association through a representative, the owner said: “The reaction of visitors who stare with reverence and respect has been a welcome riposte by the citizenry to official apathy.”
Despite repeated approaches to government, no deal on a sale could be reached with the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, prompting the owner to remove it from the GPO in the days before Christmas.
It is understood it was being hand delivered to New York yesterday after the one-year export ban lapsed.
The owner said: “I never sought to profit from my custodianship, I merely wished to recoup the cost of purchase when the time came to pass on the baton I picked up in 2006.
“Unfortunately, as there was nobody willing to take my place I will continue to protect and preserve this important national treasure albeit outside of Ireland now.”
The letter failed to sell at auction in December 2016.
At the time the government insisted the guide price of between €1m and €1.5m (£840,000-£1.25m) was too dear.
The Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht said it would not disclose if it had been in talks with the owner to buy the letter.
Pearse wrote the letter in his prison cell on April 30 1916.
Auctioneers regard it as one of the most historically significant artefacts from the rebellion years to have been offered publicly.