The thrill of the chase for key masterpieces resulted in spirited bidding and a slew of new auction records at last weekend’s León Gallery Magnificent September Auction. The sale was an innovative hybrid that combined a live auctioneer responding to phone, internet and a limited number of on-premise bidding. It was noted that phone bidders tripled from the previous mid-year auction.
Reigning over the sale was none other than Lee Aguinaldo’s iconic pair of paintings Linear No. 98 and Linear No. 99 which achieved P40.8 million, inclusive of buyer’s premium. This established a world record for Aguinaldo who is known to price his art very high when he was still alive. The back of one of the two paintings gives proof of this: the artwork information says USD 3,000, the price of the diptych when the works traveled to São Paulo.
“They were handpicked by no less than Arturo Luz, who was the curator for the Philippine exhibition at the Sao Paulo Bienale of 1971,” said Jaime Ponce de Leon, director of León Gallery. “This added to its mystique as Aguinaldo’s equivalent to fellow abstract expressionist Jose Joya’s ‘Space Transfiguration,’ which has gone down in history as Joya’s greatest and most important work.
These records were followed by Ronald Ventura’s monumental “Cage”, for P16.4 Million; Romulo Olazo’s magnetic Diaphanous B-XXXVII, which broke its record at a previous León auction outing, at P12.8 Million. (This result as well as all others featured in this article include the buyer’s premium.)
Jose John Santos’ intimate portrait of himself and his wife, “Through the Peep Hole” telescoped to P11 Million, a record for that size of his work.
Annie Cabigting’s “Composition in Black and White (Painting 1),” which features a museum-goer gazing on a geometric Mondrian, reaped P7 Million.
Four Mark Justinianis performed more than satisfyingly, with the intriguingly wistful “Tila”, which took in P5.4 Million.
“This auction cut across all collectors’ tastes and classes,” beamed Jaime Ponce de Leon. “I was congratulated several times over by various art lovers who said they found something for everyone at this particular auction.”
Nineteenth century antiques fared very well, too, including an exquisite Calvario en Urna featuring the ‘Tres Marias’, which went for P2 Million. A ‘sillon fraile’ once in the collection of artist Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo, accomplished a healthy half a million pesos. A three-tier gold necklace from pre-Spanish Surigao accounted for almost P4 Million.
Two historic maps, the Ramusio-Gastaldi and the Murillo-Velarde, harvested P2.3 million each.
New auction darlings, Dino Gabito and Marc Aran Reyes : Gabito’s “Shroud No. 5” outpaced Reyes’ “Budding” handily at almost P5 Million. Marc Aran Reyes, who set a world record for his works at his debut at the León June auction, nevertheless performed creditably at P3.3 million for his second auction appearance. Gabito’s performance was a world record for the young artist.
Other world records were made for Norberto Carating, for his “Greenhouse Effect” and the “Human Skeleton Series” by Bernardo Pacquing, who both figured at nearly identical levels at P2.2 Million and P2 Million, respectively.
This was the second, highly fruitful alliance with the country’s most trusted house and ANCX.ph, the online lifestyle website of ABS-CBN News.