By Kap Maceda Aguila
HERE COMES a rare chance to acquire a creation by one of the country’s 19th-century masters.
Last seen in public at the 1893 Exposicion Historio-Natural y Etnografica of the Museo Arqueologico in Madrid, an oil-on-canvas masterpiece by Félix Resurrección Hidalgo will go under the hammer on the first day of a weekend auction staged by Salcedo Auctions at The Peninsula Manila in Makati City on Sept. 21 and 22.
Entitled La Pintura (The Painting), the painting depicts a mestiza with palette and brush in hand, seemingly contemplating the unfinished canvas in front of her. La Pintura measures 150 x 75 centimeters and is signed by the great 19th-century Filipino painter on its lower left.
It is just one of the 165 paintings and sculptures; 152 pieces of furniture, books, and maps; fine jewelry and timepieces; a red, first-generation 1969 Chevrolet Camaro; a BWM motorbike from the same year; and a vintage Mobil gas pump in fire-engine red in this year’s edition (the third staging in as many years at The Peninsula) of the auction house’s “Well-Appointed Life” series.
Salcedo Auctions director Richie Lerma told BusinessWorld that local interest in auctions is growing. “When we started in 2010, people weren’t very familiar with fine arts and collectibles auctions. But it has grown to become a very viable platform to offer valuable collectibles at the secondary market.”
He added that sellers benefit from a myriad of advantages in the public sale of their goods by offering them up for bid. “I think number one is transparency because you’re able to know exactly how much you’re going to get — less, of course, all the commissions and fees that are involved in selling your valuables through Salcedo.”
And because the items are offered to a wider audience, Mr. Lerma explained that there will be an uptrend in the price — and none of the traditional haggling when there’s only one buyer. “The tendency here is you’re bidding against people, and you’re bidding up. You’re bidding to a point that’s the most somebody is willing to pay for a particular piece. You have that comfort as well you’re getting the best possible price the market is prepared to pay at that point in time, simply because you’ve disseminated it to thousands of collectors already,” he added.
Four categories comprise the “Well-Appointed Life,” which Mr. Lerma describes as the “most special” of the company’s dozen or so auctions throughout the year. The first, to which La Pintura belongs, is “Important Philippine Art.” Second is the so-called “Connoisseur Collection,” highlighting fine and rare Philippine furniture as well as a Salcedo Auctions-pioneered feature of Philippine tribal and ethnographic art. Third is “Fine Jewelry and Timepieces”; and, lastly, “Rare Automobiles.”
HIDDEN FOR 130 YEARS
The Hidalgo piece is obviously the highlight of this year’s collection, and is expected to fetch no less than P18 million. Mr. Lerma explained that the painting has stayed for more than 130 years with the family now seeking a new home for it. Prior to that, it was “possibly acquired from the artist by Pedro Paterno, and possibly through his Galician wife, Luisa Piñeiro de Paterno.”
There’s also a Juan Luna watercolor (Venezia) up for grabs for a minimum bid of P3.8 million, and a Juvenal Sanso oil creation from the 1950s (Typewriter) for an expected P1.8 million.
Mr. Lerma also points to an exciting timepiece for collectors to vie for — a rare stainless-steel Patek Philippe Nautilus. The automatic wristwatch, gifted to its owner in the 1970s by his father, is set to be auctioned off with a starting bid of P2.8 million — a price that the Salcedo Auctions director said is much lower than its online value.
An Eduardo Castrillo 1979 brass sculpture, Graceful Charm, is estimated to fetch P450,000, while Ang Kiukok’s Seated Figure (1981) oil-on-canvas painting starts at P6 million.
The auction format is akin to a piece running a gauntlet — a proving ground for value and desirability. “If it doesn’t reach that target price of yours, maybe your price is too high to begin with,” maintained Mr. Lerma. “It’s a reality check as well. And it becomes, for the larger market too, a reference point. If they are selling something privately, the dealer can’t just swoop in and basically tell them it’s only worth this much. If they’ve done their research, they can tell them, ‘Well, in Salcedo, it’s already worth this much.’ So, it helps them; it’s a service.”
Public previews for the “Well-Appointed Life” collection run from Sept. 13 to 20, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. “Important Philippine Art” pieces will be on view at the upper lobby of The Peninsula Manila; the “Connoisseur Collection” and “Fine Jewelry and Timepieces” will be displayed at the podium level of the NEX Tower on 6786 Ayala Ave.; and “Rare Automobiles” will be at the porte cochère of The Peninsula Manila.
The auction schedule at the hotel’s Rigodon Ballroom is as follows: Sept. 21, “Connoisseur Collection” (11 a.m.) and “Important Philippine Art” (2 p.m.); Sept. 22, “Fine Jewelry and Timepieces” (2 p.m.) then “Rare Automobiles.” For more information, visit salcedoauctions.com.