Seller’s word on art pieces’ authenticity not enough

/ 11:43 PM October 11, 2013

I read the articles on Jaime Ponce de León and the authenticity of “Las Buyeras” (“Mystery of a Jorge Pineda painting—or paintings,” Lifestyle, 9/30/13; “Jaime Ponce de León: León Gallery’s ‘Las Buyeras’ has unassailable provenance,” Lifestyle, 9/30/13) with great interest, since my family also disputed a painting said to be a Santiago Bose in the León Gallery auction in September. I blogged about it here: http://www.lilledeshan.com/2013/09/26/is-it-art-or-is-it-fart

To make a long story short, we questioned the authenticity of the Santiago Bose work that was up for auction two weeks before the auction was held, but never heard back from Ponce de León about what he was going to do about it.


After I posted about the issue on my blog, he replied to my mother (and later, to me) saying that he pulled out the work in question on Sept. 27, a day before the auction. And even though we asked him to remove all mention of my father’s name in his auction, Ponce de León kept Santiago Bose’s name in the PR materials, the website and other promotional sites (FB, etc.) that were available to the public.

What I’m curious about is why the Inquirer would publish “Jaime Ponce de León: León Gallery’s ‘Las Buyeras’ has unassailable provenance,” a story about Ponce de León that reads like a fluff piece, instead of investigating his actual practices when establishing authenticity of the work he is auctioning. Does he work with art historians? Art experts? Educators?


Just trusting a seller to authenticate a work of art leads to problems, as evidenced in our case, especially when not all sellers are all that knowledgeable about the artwork they are selling.

In our case, as well, it should not have been up to us, Santiago Bose’s family, for example, to look into the provenance of the work that Ponce de León was selling. And if there have been numerous questions about the provenance of various works in Ponce de León’s catalogue, maybe the Inquirer should be doing actual journalism and investigating the matter instead of publishing stories with non sequiturs such as, “Perhaps because he hails from the South (Dumaguete, Negros Oriental), he’s affable, optimistic and full of solicitude.”

I thought the article, “Mystery of a Jorge Pineda painting—or paintings” was well-written, but again the public deserves to know more.

Inquirer readers should know that there is more than one case of questionable authenticity among works at the León Gallery, and if the Inquirer is publishing a response from Ponce de León, he should be able to talk more about how he verifies the work he sells and gets a proof of authenticity than just “the reputation of the piece” and “the quality of the workmanship of the painting, and the exquisite nature of this piece.” This all sounds like a ridiculous amateur hour to me, and belittles the integrity of the artists whose work he sells.


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“Jaime Ponce de León: León Gallery’s ‘Las Buyeras’ has unassailable provenance”  was a profile of somebody from the nascent auction industry in the Philippines. There weren’t “numerous questions about the provenance of various works in Ponce de León’s catalogue”; there were two out of 154 works set to be auctioned. “Las Buyeras” came from the estate of the late National Artist for Literature Alejandro Roces. The mistaken Santiago Bose work was withdrawn. The Inquirer Arts and Books subsection reported the protest of the Bose family in its story of the auction results last Oct. 7.


—Lifestyle Arts and Books Ed.

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TAGS: Jaime Ponce de Leon, Las Buyeras, letters to the editor, Lifestyle, opinion, Santiago Bose
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