Armed with credibility, trust, and well-curated lots, Finale Auctions rejoins the auction scene as both a reliable resource for veterans and a point of entry for novices, writes MJ Jose
With its vision to create an inviting atmosphere for both novice and expert collectors, Finale Auctions is set to change the game in the local art scene
uction houses have long been considered playgrounds of the wealthy. High-value items such as artworks, watches, and jewellery are put on the block, and well-heeled collectors place their bids until the auctioneer’s hammer falls. At times, starting bids can be exorbitant from the get-go, discouraging aspiring collectors from bidding further. “Auctions can be intimidating, and understandably so because it is not a venue where people feel they can readily participate in,” says businessman and watch specialist Paolo Martel, who has been tapped by Finale Art File as a collaborator for this project alongside art collector Jayson Ong. “The auction scene is a little bit dated, which is why we are finding ways to widen the net and make beginner collectors feel more welcome.”
Finale has been in the auction game since the late 1990s until the early 2000s. During this period, its Executive Director, Evita Sarenas, and the late art connoisseur Ramon Villegas hosted auctions just for fun. Sarenas, who has extensive experience in appraisal and authentication for both institutions and private collectors, is a well-respected name in the art world.
In October 2017, she decided to revive the auction business under the banner Finale Auctions with the last fine art auction held in April of this year. Its next auction takes place this month—on the 13th (for fine art) and 14th (watches and jewellery).
“To sustain the gallery—which is my passion, and therefore art for art’s sake—I source works by big name artists and sell them,” explains Sarenas. “Nowadays, collectors prefer to unload their pieces through auctions because of the higher prices that can be fetched through bidding. When the idea of resurrecting the auction house came about, I decided to go with it because it would merit additional support for the gallery.”
Finale Auctions’ main priority is to create an environment guided by trust, credibility, and confidence for both sellers and buyers. It is set to be launched as a multicategory auction, but one that is extremely wellcurated. Sarenas and Ong are handling the fine art category, where lucky bidders can take home major works from Philippine greats such as Juan Luna y Novicio, Fernando Amorsolo, Ang Kiukok, and Mauro “Malang” Santos. Those on the lookout for contemporary art can look forward to works by artists like Ronald Ventura. Martel’s team is taking care of the watches and jewellery category, where highly collectible timepieces from respected watch brands— some of which have never been offered for auction in the Philippines before—and signed pieces from companies such as Bulgari and Manfredi will be up for bids. A highlight is a vintage Patek Phillipe reference 3448 Perpetual Calendar in yellow gold, which is the very first automatic perpetual complication produced by the company.
There are entrypoint pieces with starting bids of Php200,000 to 300,000, which Finale Auctions hopes will serve as a comeon to novice collectors. “We cannot always aim for ultrahigh results in terms of figures because that means we are leaning towards pleasing the sellers,” shares Martel. “A balance must be struck—obtain good results for the sellers and make sure the buyers get good deals. Whatever amount they pay, whether it be P300,000 or P20 million, you want them to walk out feeling like they obtained the piece at a justifiable price. We’re not here to compete with the giants; we are here as credible players hoping to grow the market. Even though we are in the auction business, we cannot be too opportunistic or unapproachable.”
up for bids Bontoc Igorote by Fernando Amorsolo
COVETED PIECES (Clockwise from top left) Three Women by Malang; An open face pocket watch in yellow gold by Thomas Engel, made for Zenith; A stylish pair of mother of pearl and emerald dangling earrings set in rose gold; Jayson Ong, Evita Sarenas, and Paolo Martel; Diaphanous Anthuriums #40 by RomuloOlazo