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Why Manila’s Heiresses Are Drawn To Putting Their Precious Possessions Up For Auction

In the upcoming 8th online auction of leading auction house Leon Gallery, there will be a special section called Heiresses’ Homes And Tables, dedicated to a mish-mash of accoutrements previously owned by, as the title suggests, daughters of the country’s well-heeled families. The bounty includes a pair of rare Hermes “Pointer” porcelain ashtrays, their corners gilded in gold, their faces hand-painted with pointer dogs and hunting guns. There are home fittings including a variety of tables, chests, chandeliers, and cabinets, including a Ralph Lauren armoire, a Du Barry chaise lounge, and antique hardwood furniture. They are elegant and refined, just like the demeanor and lifestyle we imagine the woman who used to own them possess.


Ralph Lauren Armoire with 2 Shelves and 2 Drawers and Electronic Wiring Board with solid chrome handles


But what made these women of privilege decide to part ways with these objects that used to beautify their worlds, and heighten their experience of the everyday? Lisa Nakpil, Leon Gallery curator, attempts an explanation that makes a lot of sense in the contemporary situation. According to Nakpil, the main reason is a lifestyle update. As women pursue their interests more actively in the name of social media clout, plus with the increased popularity of travel, a leisurely life in a sprawling mansion filled with old and crusty family heirlooms is becoming less and less attractive. Instead, the idea of living, in short spans of time, in a chic urban flat in the UK, New York, or any other glitzy city is now more appealing.

Of course, traveling overseas means letting go of possessions that may hold you back, like that oversized African Djembe drum or your great-great-great grandmother’s velvet chaise lounge, which would be difficult to fit in one’s monogrammed Louis Vuitton trunk.

This situation, of course, may or may not be the case for Felicitas ‘Tita’ Radaic, an icon in local ballet and who is now in her senior years. While Nakpil opts not to name the rest of the heiresses who had passed on select objects from their possessions to Leon, the curator makes an exception of the retired ballerina.   Included in Radaic’s collection up for auction are watercolor, charcoal, and prints by artists such as Julio Martin Caro, Oswaldo Guyasamin, Daniel Vasquez Diaz, Fernando Zobel, Ofelia Gelvezon-Tequi, and Antonin Machourek, a Czech artist whose works have sold at auctions abroad including Christie’s South Kensington’s interiors auction in 2012.


Tita , as Princess Aurora in Sleeping Beauty ( as Principal Ballerina with the Anita Kane Ballet Company , ca. 1960) 


Tita and Ante ( Madrid , 1958) , on their many shared strolls and travels visiting famous European Museums , both enriching their curious , intellectual minds and creative spirits.


Other items in Ms. Radaic’s collection are antique religious statuettes, a Chinese clock, a Korean chest, and paintings made with various media, plus Salvador Dali’s autograph from 1956.

From the unidentified ladies, one will find antique brass sculptures, candle holders, china and porcelain bowls, lamps, and even swords, old magazines and books dating back to 1914, and a set of charming 19th century miniature paintings.  


Tuscany Floor Lamp with Lampshade and Stand Base with Velvet Cover and Electrical Switch


What inspired the popular gallery and auction house Leon to put the spotlight on these riches from the country’s heiresses? What brought these ladies, who may not be exactly wanting in funds, to give up custody of such beautiful things?

The recent Rockefeller auction also plays a significant part in auction trends, offers Nakpil. Last May, David and Peggy Rockefeller made a cool $832.6 million at the Christie’s Rockefeller art auction, which became this century’s most valuable private sale. The proceeds from this event were divided into 12 charities the family supports.  

This success may have inspired our heiresses to downsize their belongings to a significant degree. While still a far cry from a stark minimalist existence, the concept of leading a more physically streamlined lifestyle means less clutter to worry about: living large by living light.

Our esteemed ladies may also be driven by the thrill of the competitive exchange, selling their possessions at the highest value, followed by a bidding spree for new lots. This has become a regular practice with some of them, says Nakpil, like refreshing your home every so often with the best unique pieces you can find. Perhaps it’s also the concept of retail therapy-meets-YOLO – cycling between selling and buying beautiful mementos to temporarily enjoy, leaving nothing but memories as they pass from owner to owner.

Modern Coffee Table Mid-Century H- 20_ x L- 21 3_4_ x W- 16_ (51 cm x 55 cm x 41 cm) 


The Leon Exchange Online Auction will run from 27 to 28 July. Bidding starts at 11:00 AM. For more information, visit Leon Exchange Online Auction 2018 official page or