BIZ BUZZ: Leon Gallery treasure trove
After the rousing success of its three quarterly auctions earlier this year—and racking up a number of records in terms of prices—Leon Gallery will end 2023 with one final auction next Saturday, Dec. 2, during which some jaw-dropping artworks will go under the hammer. According to the renowned gallery’s director, Jaime Ponce de Leon, the most valuable piece to be auctioned off next weekend will be a 1968 oil on canvas painting by Carlos “Botong” Francisco named “Bayanihan.” At a size of 26 by 34 inches, Ponce de Leon noted how rare a Botong painting of this size is, as most of his works come in extra large mural sizes for which the painter is known for. Bidding for this hard-to-find piece—which its current owners acquired directly from the artist—will start at P14 million (but the auctioneer’s gavel will likely come down at a price way beyond that price).
There will also be two Juan Luna paintings that will be auctioned off. The first is entitled “Study of Paz Picking Flowers in a Garden” (starting bid at P3 million) and the other one is “Juan Luna and His Wife Paz” (starting at P2.6 million), the latter being a rare self portrait as well.
“Paz” is, of course, Luna’s wife who tragically died by the artist’s own hand.
But one of the most amazing pieces in the collection that will be up for grabs next weekend is a poem written by none other than the country’s national hero, Jose Rizal, as a companion poem to his final work, “Mi Ultimo Adios.”
Entitled “Mi Retiro” (my retreat), this poem of longing and the sadness of exile was written on two leaves of graph paper with four leaves of his own handwriting, and addressed to “Señor Doctor Pardo de Tavera.”
Referring to his brother-in-arms, Trinidad H. Pardo de Tavera with whom Rizal shared a deep bond of friendship.
“Originally meant for Rizal’s mother who asked him to return to writing poetry, it contains a deep message to our shared country,” Ponce de Leon said.
Bidding for this historic piece will start at P2 million.
The artworks come from private collections of the well heeled, and have come into the public sphere by way of heirs of the collectors who have passed away.
Thanks to Leon Gallery’s well attended and very competitive auctions, it looks like there will be more than enough money to go around for these heirs.—Daxim L. Lucas