By Ces Oreña-Drilon
Last weekend’s Asian Cultural Council (ACC) Auction was a feast for the senses as collectors from all over the world came together to witness the setting of world records at the prestigious León Gallery.
The festive atmosphere set the tone for a day filled with excitement and anticipation, with collectors eagerly waiting to see history in the making.
And they were not disappointed. Anita Magsaysay-Ho, the celebrated Filipino artist, broke her previous record with the stunning “Fruit Market,” which fetched an astonishing P86 million, including buyer’s premium. The bidding for this masterpiece was intense, with a starting bid of P22 million and a fast and furious climb that didn’t stop until it had set a new world record for the artist.
Jaime Ponce de Leon, an art expert, attributed the record-breaking bid to the captivating faces of the fruit vendors in the painting, as well as its double provenance from the Philippine Art Gallery and the collection of Frank and Betty Anderson, one of the country’s first lumber millionaires.
But it wasn’t just Magsaysay-Ho who set a new record at the auction. Elmer Borlongan’s “Moving Forward,” a depiction of a suit on a skateboard, also established a world record for the artist with a winning bid of P14 million.
Meanwhile, Lao Lianben’s “Monk’s House” matched his previous world record of P14 million, and Ramon Orlina’s “Emerald Journey” fell just short of his previous world record.
The auction was also a testament to the power of historical objects, with the Despujol Dagger and the first Filipino novel, “Ninay” by Pedro Alejandro Paterno, both garnering significant bids.
Fabian de la Rosa’s “Filipina with a Red Parasol” and Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo’s “Pasig River” also proved popular, emphasizing the allure of the 19th-century.
Throughout the auction, it was clear that quality and provenance were key. Works by Romulo Olazo, Mauro “Malang” Santos, H. R. Ocampo, and Betsy Westendorp all demonstrated the power of these factors, with Letty Magsanoc ‘Betsy’ fetching over P6 million.
The ACC board, led by Ernest Escaler, Maribel Ongpin, Rajo Laurel, and Malu Gamboa, showed their support for the auction, while Alice Eduardo’s last-minute absence was noted with disappointment.
However, her generosity in donating the mammoth-sized Jose Joya piece called “Love Rite” to the cause of sending more Filipino artists abroad for further training was warmly appreciated by the crowd. The piece quickly ascended to join the “Million-Dollar Artwork Club,” garnering almost P60 million.
The auction was punctuated by formidable female artists and collectors alike, with Magsaysay-Ho among the many who left their mark on the event. In short, the ACC Auction was a true celebration of art, culture, and history, and a testament to the enduring power of creativity and human achievement.