Art Talk

Art Auction Malaysia 2012 - Auction Day
By Swee Chin PAN

1 PM
It was my first time. I got there by 11 AM to catch the pre-auction action as I wanted to be able to document the event from start to finish. 

It was all very organized with buntings showing where the registration counters were, where to collect your paddle number and most important, where to make payment – all nicely spaced out and away from the eating area. I was informed that there were already 100 bidders registered before the day! 


The crowd streamed in slowly but surely and when it got nearer the auction start time, it became clear that the seating prepared was not sufficient. The back part of the room filled up first. A late- comer despaired at not being able to sit at the back. Hmmm…I would have thought that sitting right up front would have been best, if you were bidding. Ah…but I was told, you can see all the action from the back and see who is bidding, be able to gauge sentiments…oh well…to each his own.


I managed to get one of the extra seats provided, at the side and I loved it there. I could stand up, walk a couple of steps to the pillar to see who was bidding and knew that I was neither blocking nor disturbing anyone. The auction itself was made all the more exciting when the vacated seat next to mine was taken by buyer who made numerous bids! I shared the joy when a bid made it and commiserated when a bid failed – what to do when the budget was exceeded? And the frustration when extra had to be paid when there was another keen buyer bidding. Don’t forget, there is the extra 10% to be paid to Henry Butcher on top of the bid!

The bids for the popular works moved ever so quickly. Four or five hands shooting up at the same time! The auctioneer had to be very careful…good thing there were helpers dotted around the room with their white gloved hands helping him to see. 
Huang Yao's Bridesmaid

To me, the most amazing was one of Huang Yao’s Chinese ink paintings – the starting bid for his Bridesmaid opened at RM60,000.00, the price pushed up by two absent bidders! This was ten times the estimate of RM6,000 – RM8,000! It eventually sold for RM72,000.00. Wow, wow, wow…the buyers obviously know something I don’t!
Ahmad Zakii Anwar's Blue Kebyar
Artworks by Khalil Ibrahim, Eng Tay, Raphael Scott Ahbeng, Jolly Koh, Shafie Hassan, Jalaini Abu Hassan, Chong Siew Ying, Ahmad Zakii Anwar, Chang Fee Ming, the late Datuk Syed Ahmad Jamal, Latiff Mohidin, Chen Wen Hsi, Cheong Soo Pieng, John Lee Joo For, Dato’ Mohd. Hoessein Enas, Patrick Ng, Abdullah Ariff, Chia Yu Chian as well first timer, Ismail Hashim’s photograph, all did well, selling over their estimates!
Fatimah, Pakha, Bingley & Jai
The late Datuk Ibrahim Hussein’s Monorobos 1 sold at RM360,000, well over its estimate of RM150,000 – RM250,000. However, his Red, Orange and Core only managed to fetch RM725,000 below the RM800,000 estimate. Frankly, who has that kind of money to spare? Even if it is for the love of art…
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely the current opinions of the author and should not be construed to reflect the opinions, policies or positions of any entity other than the author's.