Glerum Auctioneers of The Hague, which plans to set up an office in Singapore, held its inaugural sale at the Shangri-La Hotel on 30 June.
Wealthy Indonesian collectors took the weekend off and flew to Singapore to buy back a piece of their history and culture. The sale, which realised S$3.6 million (£1.65 million) exceeded expectations. This compares with S$7 million at Christie’s auction of South-East Asian Art in March, which included the highest price ever achieved for a work of art in Singapore, Raden Saleh’s oil painting, “The Deer”, which sold for S$3.08 million.
One of the highlights of the Glerum sale was “Balinese girl Tigah” by the twentieth-century Italian-born, painter, Romualdo Locatelli, which fetched S$340,000 (£ 157,000). Ninety-one percent of the paintings, by Indonesians and European masters who worked in Indonesia during the period of Dutch colonisation, were sold. These included pictures by Basoeki, Saleh, Le Mayeur and Willem Hofker, whose Balinese nudes fetched between S$180,000 and $320,000. The sale also featured Japanese Imari and Arita porcelain and Chinese Wanli and Kangxi ware (a blue and white baluster jar was sold for S$30,000).
The rapid rise in demand for Indonesian art coincides with the spectacular growth of the Indonesian economy and the fact that Singapore is a mere two hours flight from Djakarta adds to its attraction as a new centre for art and auctions in South-East Asia.