Arts & Culture

This Painting Believed to be a Juan Luna Boceto Sells For P73.5 Million

The winning bidder is rumored to be a taipan.

A painting believed to be a boceto of Juan Luna's Spoliarium was sold by Salcedo Auctions last night. The exact hammer price was P73,584,000 including buyer's premium.

The auction, which also listed Philippine art, fine jewelry and timepieces, and rare automobiles, highlighted the study of Juan Luna's masterpiece as its headlining piece. "The piece provides a fascinating insight of the creative process behind an artwork that continues to stir the hearts and minds of Filipinos," the press release of Salcedo Auctions reads.

Prior to the bidding, Salcedo Auctions released a statement on the work's authenticity, which stirred a number of debates and discussions. Part of the statement reads:

"Salcedo Auctions now has in its possession email communications from the family that sold 'España y Filipinas' at the Balclis auction in Barcelona in October 2012 under the title 'España guiando a la gloria a Filipinas,' and which was eventually resold under the title 'España y Filipinas' at the Sotheby's Hong Kong 40th Anniversary Evening Sale in October 2013, where it was acquired by the National Gallery of Singapore for its permanent collection.

"The emails clearly state that both 'Boceto for Spoliarium' and 'Espana y Filipinas' all form part of a family collection that was inherited from Doña Maria Nuñez Rodriguez, the widow of Don Francisco Vazquez Gayoso, and who Salcedo Auctions had previously identified as the daughter-in-law of Don Jose Vazquez Castiñeira."

Despite its value and its connection to Luna, the usually active cognoscenti seemed to have sat out the bidding. A live bidder lost out to one on the phone, who is rumored to be a taipan.


The hammer price is said to be the highest auction price ever reached by a Luna painting in the Philippines. The painting had attracted attention the past few weeks due to questions about its authenticity. It initially sparked interest because of Luna's signature on the bottom right, though preludes like this one are not usually signed by its artist. What made it even more interesting was the baybayin symbols in the signature.

Lerma said he was also wary of the boceto's color, which is unlike the finished work, which made him investigate its authenticity further.

See the boceto below:

About The Author
Hannah Lazatin
Senior Staff Writer
Hannah is a communications graduate from Ateneo de Manila University. She’s originally from Pampanga and from a big, close-knit family who likes to find a reason to get together at the dinner table. Experiences inspire her. “Once, at a restaurant, I received an interpretation of my second name ‘Celina,’ and it meant 'someone who tries everything once' and that is me through and through,” she says. As for the job, she wants her “readers to be inspired by the stories of the people we feature and to move them to reach for greater things.”
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