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Bidding For History: Spoliarium Or Spoiled-arium?

Leave it to Richie Lerma and his Salcedo Auctions to come up with perhaps the most controversial of auction pieces for their upcoming event, "The Well Appointed Life," to be held at the Rigodon Ballroom of the Manila Peninsula on September 22 and 24. It will be interesting to see what kind of reception this once-in-a-lifetime painting will receive.

At the center of the art maelstrom is a boceto (study, sketch) of Juan Luna’s "Spoliarium." To read a detailed account of this boceto’s provenance, check out the feature written by Mookie Katigbak-Lacuesta on ABS-CBN News; it’s a fascinating piece that puts this Philippine art discovery (or hoax) in perspective.




This afternoon’s well-appointed reveal of the greatest Philippine art discovery in recent memory. . Salcedo Auctions director Richie Lerma and @thepeninsulamanila GM Mark Choon unveil Juan Luna y Novicio’s ‘Boceto for Spoliarium.’ . An SRO press conference and curatorial discussion led by award-winning broadcast journalist Ces Orena-Drilon of followed. . The Well-Appointed Life by Salcedo Auctions is co-presented by The Peninsula Manila, in association with Singapore Airlines - Airline Partner, Dom Perignon - Vernissage Partner, Phoenix Pulse - Official Fuel for Rare Automobiles, GBA Events Asia - Premium Event Specialist, and ANC-X - Media Partner . #spoliarium #juanluna #boceto #thewellappointedlife #TWAL2018 #medialaunch #pressconference #unveiling #salcedosays

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"The Well Appointed Life" will consist of four major sale categories—Important Philippine Art, Connoisseur Collection, Fine Jewellery and Timepieces, and Rare Automobiles. And in the Philippine Art section, beyond the aforementioned Luna boceto, there are two Paris period oil paintings by Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo. Amorsolo, BenCab, Joya, Malang Santos, Ang Kiukok, Ocampo, Botong Francisco, Sanso are among the renowned artists with pieces up for sale. Among the more contemporary artists, there’s Ventura, Borlongan, Orlina, Lao Lianben, and Dalena.



FERNANDO AMORSOLO (1892-1972) | Untitled (Woman in Pink)


BENCAB (B. 1942) | La Familia


MAURO MALANG SANTOS (1928 - 2017) | Carroza


ANG KIUKOK (1931-2005) | Untitled (Still Life)


In the Connoisseur Collection, there will be an 18th century large ivory Christ on the Cross, and a wonderful Renaissance-style Ah Tay half-tester bed. A preview of the collections up for auction will be held from September 13 to the 21.



An Ah Tay half-tester bed



My most important takeaway as I was present at the media event was how, while estate sales and such important pieces being unloaded and/or liquidated are the lifelines of auction houses here in Manila, it was interesting to note the regularity and preponderance of such objects now falling under the gavel.

Varying fortunes and shifting circumstances have evidently made the great collecting families of the past send these great collectibles out the doors. And in the back of my mind, I was wondering how their forefathers, or the ancestors who first owned these pieces would feel about how their descendants are now liquidating these treasures.

Meanwhile, given the breadth and quality of the pieces, I’m certain the new breed of collectors are collectively foaming at the mouth, eager for the auction to come upon us.