A ‘mind-blowing’ auction

PEOPLE - Joanne Rae M. Ramirez - The Philippine Star
A �mind-blowing� auction
Love Rite,’ by National Artist Jose Joya snags P59.46 million at the recent Leon Gallery/ Asian Cultural Council auction.
STAR/ File

There is an unforgettable line in the movie Pretty Woman, where the concierge (Hector Elizondo) tells tycoon Edward (Richard Gere), when the latter asks him to return a stunning diamond necklace worn by his date Vivian (Julia Roberts), “It must be so hard to let go of something so beautiful.”

I told “Woman of Steel” and philanthropist Alice G. Eduardo the same thing — that it must have been difficult for her to let go of her stunning Joya mural entitled “Love Rite,” which was the first piece of art that greeted visitors in her former Forbes Park home.

“Yes, it was a test,” Alice told me, “of my attachment to material things.”

“Kaya ko pala. I can let go,” she said after she donated the proceeds (all — or a substantial part of it, no one’s telling!) from the auction of the Joya mural to the Asian Cultural Council (ACC). It would have been easier to give cash, but there was a “symbolism” in the mural. Joya, a National Artist, was the ACC’s first grantee.

Joya’s “Love Rite” snagged P59.46 million at the Leon Gallery/ACC auction. The winning bid was P35 million more than the starting bid price of P24 million.

All in all, the auction was described as “mind-blowing” by Maribel G. Ongpin, president of the Asian Cultural Council Philippines. She said it benefitted more grantees than expected.

“I believe in the cause. So when I was approached a couple of years ago by a trustee of ACC about the Joya, I started thinking about it,” Alice shared.

Alice G. Eduardo, with the Joya that used to hang in her home

Alice acquired the Joya in an auction at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong a few years ago. Her winning bid was less than what the owner, also a Filipino artist, was hoping for.

Alice reached out to the owner and gave him the balance of the amount he was hoping for— out of her own volition.

“In any transaction, as much as possible, the buyer and the seller should both be happy,” she believes.

“When you give, you give from the heart, or manghihinayang ka lang (you may regret it),” Alice, president and CEO of Sta. Elena Construction and Development Corp. told me.

“This was truly from the heart,” Alice added.

Ann Puno, De Leon, the author and lawyer Rene Puno.

This was not lost on Leon Gallery founder Jaime Ponce de Leon, who said the sale of Alice’s Joya is the second highest ever for a Joya. Another artwork in the auction, “Fruit Market” by Anita Magsaysay-Ho has broken world records for a Magsaysay-Ho, with a winning bid for P86.4 million. Another record breaker was Borlongan’s “Moving Forward” (Pasulong), which was sold for P14 million.

Part of the proceeds from the auction will, in keeping with ACC’s mission, go to grants to the most talented of Filipino artists in fields as diverse as the seven arts, museum studies, critic and curatorial development, as well as conservation and collection management.

Jaime is grateful to Alice “for her great generosity in allowing her prized mural-sized Jose Joya that graced the living room of her Forbes Park home to not only be the cover piece of this year’s auction but to benefit the cause of the Asian Cultural Council. As a trustee of the ACC, she felt it only right to give back to the very institution that molded its first grantee to become a future Philippine National Artist.”

Of equal note in the auction was the presence of Anita Magsaysay-Ho’s “Fruit Market” to Vicente Manansala’s “Madonna,” a Parisian work from Nena Saguil; H.R. Ocampo’s “Evensong,” and Ang Kiukok’s “Fish” (in two iterations).

The importance of the ACC grants cannot be overstated, said Jaime, “because the further studies and exposure of our artists to the international arena allow them to be world class. Take Joya and Chabet for example and numerous others who have brought so much honor for us as well as putting us on the cultural map.”

The ACC is also grateful to Jaime.

“We would like to thank the Leon Gallery for this year’s exciting and mind-blowing auction, which will benefit more ACC grantees than usual. Special thanks to Alice G. Eduardo, in the name of all ACC grantees, past, present and future for her generous contribution,” said Mrs. Ongpin.


Alice also parted with her stunning Forbes Park home for more than six times the money she invested in it. The sale price didn’t include the paintings (several BenCabs and a Juan Luna, to name a few), her collection of bone china and Hermes bags.

For now, she plans to build two more homes, with her company’s expertise and her own flair.

The buyer of the Forbes home is a family man whose children enjoy the many rooms and wide spaces, the construction and finishing of which Alice personally supervised.

Alice is happy the buyer is happy. *

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