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P2.5M for letter opener

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A BRASS Fabergé letter opener was the auction’s biggest sale at P2.5-million hammer price.

A 20th century Fabergé brass letter opener, a 19th century oil painting of the Annunciation, vases by French artist Émile Gallé, and a Hispano-Filipino ivory figure were among the many opulent pieces on sale at the Makati City showroom for Casa de Memoria’s 2nd anniversary auction on May 5.

The auction house — which specializes in antiques and heirlooms from Europe but which recently added Asian antiques — celebrated its 2nd anniversary with pieces that come in pairs.

“For this anniversary, we’re concentrating on perfect pairs to play up the 2nd anniversary set up. A lot of items here are sold as two lots in one,” Casa de Memoria marketing manager Camille Lhuillier told BusinessWorld shortly before the auction.

The house’s 11th auction included neoclassical furniture, porcelain and ceramics, paintings and drawings by Filipino artist Romeo Tabuena, gold jewelry, European pocket watches, and Asian ivory.

Seventy-eight out of 195 lots were sold. The highest bid at the auction was for the Fabergé letter opener (which sported a mammoth finial and a green enameled handle) which sold at a hammer price of P2.5 million (opening price was P120,000). This was followed by the painting The Annunciation with God the Father which went for P420,000 (opening at P220,000).

The ecru- and dark amber-toned art nouveau floral vases by Émile Gallé were sold at P75,000 and P35,000, respectively. Among the ivories, a Hispano-Filipino figure of Sto. Niño Peregrino was sold at its opening price of P450,000, while a 19th century European figure of the infant Jesus figure sold at P180,000.

Five untitled paintings and drawings by Romeo Tabuena were all sold for a little more than their P25,000 opening bids — a portrait of a man went for P30,000; one of a man with hat for P45,000; while the rest, including a drawing of a mother and child, each went for P35,000.

“These are not things to look at. These are things to use and make a part of your house out of.” Ms. Lhuillier said, noting that antiques are not only objects for display.

“I think people approach art with it being like a museum. It has to be something that is revered, but it is also something to be used. These were made with something to use in mind.” — Michelle Anne P. Soliman