Masterpieces bring in millions of pesos for Asian Cultural Council grantees

‘YELLOW Abode’ by Jose Joya.

Once again, the annual Leon Gallery’s Asian Cultural Council brought in the country’s elite, arts and culture enthusiasts, society women and scholars together, to enjoy this most thrilling of parties for a cause. I could not make it as I had to get ready for the Laperal Mansion recital of Mariel Ilusorio, but I asked our dear Jaime Ponce de Leon to share with me the results of the auction.

Of course, Josie Natori, ACC chairperson, has been around for quite a time, I would assume, to be sure this auction would turn out well, even as she too was busy in the social whirls, being one of the most invited, an international icon no less who does us proud.

Let me share with you the results of the auction, and lest I make mistakes in describing the art pieces that brought in more resources for the worthy projects of ACC, which has funded and sent young and promising Filipino artists to the United States either for training or further studies, or residencies in the top art studios and galleries, let me just share with you what dear Jaime sent us.

To the lucky bidders, we are happy for you. To those who aspired but were short by a few hundreds of thousands or a few millions of pesos, better luck next time. It is said that fate and destiny bring an artwork and a collector together at the right time and in the right place. For such a blessing to come, one has to be more than enthusiastic. One has to be ready to top the last offer till one ends up being alone in wanted a most cherished treasure.

To those who watched and just came to enjoy the cocktails and the conversation, as Leon Gallery events are attended by the creme de la creme who just enjoy the proceedings, please do come again. It makes of all of us better educated in the arts, especially when Filipino masterpieces pass on from one hand to another, one home to another, and one art lover to another.  

Here are the most awaited results:

The highlight of the recently concluded sale is the collection of media titan and pioneer Don Geny Lopez, whose 1961 Jose Joya titled Yellow Abode, representing the zenith of the artist’s abstract expressionist powers and from his same prolific year when he was awarded two of his most important awards (the Republic Cultural Heritage Award and the Ten Outstanding Young Men Award) yielded P24.03 million (inclusive of buyer’s premium).

‘Three Faces of Sabel’ by Benedicto Cabrera.

Other striking pieces from Don Geny’s collection, notably Benedicto Cabrera’s Three Faces of Sabel and Vicente Manansala’s Vendors, equally commanded impressive figures at P24.03 million and P19.2 million, respectively. 

‘VENDORS’ by Vicente Manansala.

Another Joya, Picnic at the Great Wall II, representing the artist’s evolution to geometric expressionism, brought in P20.4 million. 

A stunning collection of eight works by Fernando Amorsolo all achieved stellar sums. This elite group is led by Mango Vendors from the artist’s “Golden Period,” harvesting a striking P22.8 million.

It is followed by the two Tinikling paintings from industrial magnate Dennett Howe’s collection, which brought in P12.01 million and P14.4 million, respectively.

‘LAVANDERA’ by Fernando Amorsolo.

Lavandera, from the collection of eminent public servant Carlos P. Romulo, rippled at P4.3 million, while Ang Mga Ulila, a rare relic of a lost Amorsolo masterpiece, found its way at P7.8 million.

The “sun and moon” of Philippine art, Juan Luna and Felix Resureccion Hidalgo, fetched bountiful prices. Hidalgo’s Barcos de la Vela, from the collection of Irish-born railway tycoon and banker William Sproule, sailed towards a robust P24.03 million.


Luna’s Idilio, representing his fruitful 1880s decade that produced the iconic Death of Cleopatra and Spoliarium and from the collection of patriot and art patron Jorge B. Vargas, breezed through at P18.02 million.

Other works by Luna also fetched great sums: Ecce Homo at P10.2 million and Landscape in Bilbao at P5.04 million. 

The works of Fernando Zobel and Nena Saguil — in celebration of their birth anniversaries this year (Zobel’s centennial and the 110th of Saguil, who will also be represented in this year’s 60th Venice Biennale) — also attained outstanding results.

Zobel’s El Rio V, from his highly acclaimed Serie Blanca, secured P15.6 million, while Saguil’s Sans Titre (Untitled) and Composition en noir et blanc, clocked in at P4.8 million and P4.5 million, respectively.

‘airhome’ by Ronald Ventura.

Ronald Ventura’s tribute to the OFW, Airhome, from the collection of Architect and Mrs. Emmanuel “Manny” Minana, soared to P14.4 million.

The glory of the Romeo Jorge collection proved timeless. A 17th-century ivory image of San Miguel Arcangel ascended to the P6-million mark. On the other hand, a late 19th-century Malacañang Carlos Trece Armchair comfortably sat at the P1.3-million mark, an incredible surge of 11x from its starting price of just P120,000. 

‘A Malacañang Carlos Trece Armchair.’

Hugo Yonzon Jr. achieved a record-breaking price with his 1959 early work Boats, his entry to the 12th Art Association of the Philippines Annual Exhibition, competing with Joya’s iconic Space TransfigurationBoats anchored at P1.4 million, or 14x from its modest starting price of P100,000. 

A portion of the proceeds from this sale will help fund various ACC grants for Filipino and other Asian artists and arts-based practitioners. 

“We acknowledge the generous contribution of friends and patrons whose invaluable help and support through the years has been a source of encouragement and goodwill.

“We are forever grateful to everyone who has journeyed with us in this endeavor. Let this new year inspire us all with a renewed sense of purpose as we make each day better for everyone,” ACC Philippines chairman Ernest L. Escaler says.

“The Asian Cultural Council Auction is always an occasion close to our hearts, not least of all because it brings to the forefront the abilities of our young Filipino artists,” gladly remarks Leon Gallery director Jaime Ponce de Leon.