An auction not to miss
BUSINESS and LEISURE - Ray Butch Gamboa (The Philippine Star) - September 15, 2018 - 12:00am

The closest I got myself into an auction was watching them in the movies or on a television series, ‘Storage Wars’.

 Well, except for last Wednesday, Sept. 12 at the Conservatory of The Peninsula Manila, which was transformed into a museum-gallery as Salcedo Auctions unveiled selected highlights of its forthcoming auctions of Important Philippine Art, Connoisseur Collection, Fine Jewelry & Timepieces, and Rare Automobiles –the four sale categories comprising The Well-Appointed Life—to be held at the Rigodon Ballroom on Saturday, Sept. 22 and Sunday, Sept. 23, with the most important Philippine art discovery in recent memory, the ‘boceto’ of Juan Luna’s obra maestra, Spoliarium taking center stage.

I wouldn’t have been in the event, which was actually a preview of the much-coveted works of art to be auctioned to the highest bidder, if my B&L coverage crew were not invited by Phoenix Petroleum’s top marketing honcho, Ms. Celina Matias. Their flagship brand, Phoenix Fuels with Pulse Technology was actually one of the major sponsors of the event as it presents the Rare Automobiles segment of the auction.

Prior to the formal opening of the cocktails marking the viewing of the art pieces I had an ‘on camera’ interview of the director of Salcedo Auctions, Richie Lerma where he explained, “The boceto or sketch provides a fascinating insight of the creative process behind an artwork that continues to stir the hearts and minds of Filipinos, showing Luna’s approach to composition and the rendition of light, and the changes that he made between the prelude and the finished painting.”

He added, “It is the conception of “the nation’s most cherished painting,” “when the artist began synthesizing years of academic training and thinking about that pathos-filled scene set in ancient Rome, when staccato swathes and frothy impastos of oil paint first came together to conjure up that scene of utter grief and harrowing grandeur.”

We also learned that the Spoliarium would go on to win a First Class medal at the 1884 Expocision Nacional de Bellas Artes in Madrid, a historic milestone that showed Filipinos not just as equal but surpassing the artistic achievements of their Spanish colonial masters. It also enjoys a place of honor at the National Gallery of the National Museum of the Philippines.

Other notable works headlining the Important Philippine Art auction on Sept. 22 are two Paris period oil paintings by Luna’s artistic confrere Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo from the heirs of the artist’s favorite nephew Eduardo Hidalgo Paz; a pair of rare tipos del pais by the 19th century Filipino master Felix Martinez; two ‘Golden Period’ paintings by National Artist Fernando Amorsolo from the 1920s, and National Artist BenCab’s La Familia, its warm colors cocooning a family of three: a visual reinforcement of the painting’s subject matter that is both familiar and unique thanks to the National Artist’s distinct graphic style.

The highlight pieces to be offered at the Connoisseur Collection sale on Sept. 22 include an 18th century Large Ivory Christ on the Cross, one of the largest works of ivory remaining in private hands in the country; a Renaissance-style Ah Tay Half-Tester Bed, a de rigeur status symbol of families from the last century, and an extremely rare 18th century balayong ‘Dinimonyo’ Altar Table, one of the most elusive pieces of early Hispano-Filipino furniture, and arguably the “pinnacle object to many serious collectors,” featuring rare gargoyle figures on its legs. History all comes together in this sale as legacy pieces from the Pardo de Tavera family will also be offered, including a pair of 19th century Qing Dynasty ‘famille verte’ ceramic jars from the Paris apartment of Juan Luna and his wife Paz Pardo de Tavera, which are featured in a Luna painting, rare painted ivory, mother-of-pearl and tortoise-shell fans from the family, as well as an important carved Chinese Qing table with marble top, which according to the late Omeng Esguerra, has only three in existence. 

  Timepieces specialist, Jojo Bailon, whose expertise not only include authenticating but also determining value of watches also described ‘on camera’ what timepiece connoisseurs and watch buffs can look forward to during the auction, “Heading the line-up of the Fine Jewelry & Timepieces auction on Sept. 23 is a Rolex Stainless Steel Cosmograph Ref. 6263, a rare and highly sought-after piece because of the absence of the ‘Daytona’ model name on the dial. Also up for auction is a Rolex Submariner-Sultanate of Oman Ref. 16613: a gold and stainless steel automatic driver’s wristwatch adorned with the “khanjar” symbol, which is kept in very high regard by collectors worldwide; and a Patek Philippe Genève Perpetual Calendar ‘Platinum’ Ref. 5496P-001 with elegant moon phases and a platinum Patek Philippe deployment clasp.”

 Also going under the hammer under the Fine Jewelry category is a GIA-certified fine and delicate platinum and 18k white gold brilliant diamond necklace, D-F color, VVS1-VS2 clarity; a pair of carved emerald drops suspended from GIA-certified diamond clusters, D-F color, 6.29 tcw; an exceptional 8.32 carat unheated pink sapphire and diamond ring accompanied by a Gubelin certificate; statement estate jewelry by Bvlgari; and an absolutely stunning oval sapphire, pear shape, marquise and brilliant white diamond ring mounted in platinum, the 157 diamonds D-F color, VVS1-VS2 clarity.

Salcedo’s pioneering Rare Automobiles auction presented by Phoenix Fuels with Pulse Technology on Sept. 23 features, among other valuable vintage motor vehicles, a Guards Red 1976/77 Porsche 911 Targa, and two collectible BMW motorcycles: an R69S-1965, and an R50-1969.

The preview shall run up Friday, Sept. 21, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at The Gallery, Level 3 of The Peninsula Manila.

I guess there’s really more to an auction that what I see in the ‘Storage Wars’ TV series.

Mabuhay!!! Be proud to be a Filipino!

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