Auction comes of age in the Philippines
What many people dismissed as an unrealistic plan is now eight years old and has exceeded expectations. It is even getting a posh venue.
The Salcedo Auctions will present its fourth annual “The Well Appointed Life,” the largest fine art and collectibles auction event, at the five-star The Peninsula Manila for the entire September. A connoisseur collection and several Philippine artworks will be put on the auction block on Sept. 23 while jewelry, timepieces and rare automobiles will be disposed on Sept. 24. The event is co-presented by the Peninsula and property consultantancy firm Santos Knight Frank.
The success and growth of the annual event are testaments to the determination and can-do attitude of Ramon “Richie” E.S. Lerma, who set up the Salcedo Auctions with his wife eight years ago.
Lerma recalled some well-meaning people tried to dissuade them from pursuing the idea of organizing a local auction. They were warned Filipinos were too shy to give away their financial worth by participating in a public bidding.
But the Lerma couple boldly went where others would not. The gamble paid off. Starting with the auction of only 10 paintings in the Lermas’ art gallery in Salcedo Village (hence, the name) in Makati City, the event had gone beyond artworks.
This year’s auction will feature some 500 lots divided into four categories: Important Philippine Art, Connoisseur Collection, Fine Jewelry and Timepieces, and Rare Automobiles.
The Well Appointed Life’s over 500 lots are expertly curated by the auction house’s specialist departments.
Lerma said the daring venture could have succeeded because people realized an auction was the best place to buy collectibles and fine pieces. “It (auction) offers a lot of purchasing opportunities. People are more likely to get fair prices for items they like, such as jewelry.”
He said they set out to bring world-class auctions to the Philippines, befitting the rising fortunes of Filipinos and the country’s place in the global art community. Lerma said, this year, they would showcase fashion as art in the Connoisseur Collection.
But the centerpiece of the auction is a 30-foot painting, “Mga Kiti” (1967), by National Artist H.R. Ocampo, the largest work of the artist in private hands. The work is so large it has remained unmounted.
Mark Choon, general manager of The Peninsula Manila, said an architectural installation would be set up at the hotel’s lobby showcasing some of the auction pieces starting Sept. 1. The automobiles would be displayed on rotation at the hotel’s driveway.
He said the hotel had long been a supporter of local art and artists and actually has an impressive collection of the works of some of the country’s foremost painters.
Choon said the hotel would complement the special month-long event with special offers for customers. This would include The Well Appointed Life Afternoon Tea, as well as special menu options throughout the hotel. The Well Appointed Life Stay Package grants guests early access and a private guide at the auction preview, an invitation to the gala opening reception, pre-registration and reserved seating at the auctions, and a special culinary journey through the hotel’s dining establishments.
Rick M. Santos, chair and chief executive of Santos Knight Frank, said the auction was a natural fit for them as real estate was also art. “With our focus on quality and discerning clients, we see this partnership with Salcedo Auctions as the perfect opportunity to create a truly unique buying experience in the Philippines.”
He also noted a change in Filipinos who now actively participate in auctions.
The Salcedo Auctions will include a by-invitation gala reception on Sept. 14 at the Upper Lobby of The Peninsula that will provide guests a first glimpse of the items going under the hammer. The preview opens to the general public on Sept. 15 at The Gallery of The Peninsula.
Lerma said, “history and tradition are at the heart of what we do at Salcedo Auctions. We have always seen The Well Appointed Life as not being simply about the acquisition of objects, but rather about our country’s values, its history, how we protect our culture, and how we see ourselves as a people.”
Important Philippine Art—Aside from the Ocampo masterpiece, also featured are the works of National Artists Fernando Amorsolo, Benedicto “BenCab” Cabrera, José Joya, Arturo Luz and Vicente Manansala; Lao Lianben, Mauro Malang Santos, Annie Cabigting, Jose John Santos III, Rodel Tapaya and Ronald Ventura.
Connoisseur Collection—Features fine furniture, objets d’art, international artworks, rare books, and valuable maps. This year’s highlight is a unique confluence of Chinese furniture workmanship and Philippine imagery from the turn of the century.
Fine Jewelry & Timepieces—Offers investment-grade diamond and statement colored gemstone pieces and watches from the world’s leading makers.
Rare Automobiles—Showcases collectible European and American motorcars, highlighted by a 1934 Ford Model A Coupe accompanied by original photographs from the time of its production to the present.
Auction major partners are Lexus and Globe Platinum and premium audio partner is Bowers & Wilkins.
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