Art as an Investment? Here’s What You Need to Know

If you are looking for rare, sought-after art pieces or opportunities for acquiring collectibles of exceptional value, one of your best bets would be looking at the calendar of Salcedo Auctions. It is the only auction house in the Philippines that specializes in the sale of fine art, jewelry, decorative arts, and collectible accessories by leading local and international artists and artisans.

The inspiration behind setting up Salcedo Auctions can be traced back when Richie Lerma (Salcedo Auctions Advisor) and Karen Kua-Lerma (Salcedo Auctions President) would attend auctions in Sydney, where they were based from 2006 to 2009.

TSM Richie and Karen
Salcedo Auctions Advisor Richie Lerma has worked towards increasing the profile of Philippine art through various strategic partnerships. Among his past endeavors are as Director and Chief Curator of the Ateneo Art Gallery, Coordinator for Art Education and Coordinator of the BFA in Art Management program at the Ateneo de Manila University, and  Head of the Sub-Committee of Art Museums of the NCCA. He has an MA in Art Administration from the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia and a BA in Humanities (cum laude) from the Ateneo de Manila University. Meanwhile, Salcedo Auctions President Karen Kua-Lerma gained her Certificate in Diamond Grading from the Gemmological Association of Australia in 2009. She also trained in jewelry design and fabrication under the tutelage of the renowned Swiss master jeweler, goldsmith and silversmith Ernst Pfenninger.

In July 2010, Salcedo Auctions staged its first event with only 10 paintings for auction! Since then, forty auctions later and having set several world auction records for Philippine visual art, Salcedo Auctions has become the only internationally-recognized auction house in the Philippines, as noted in Art + Auction, ‘250 Best Auction Houses Worldwide 2015’.

Fernando Amorsolo. Under the Mango Tree. 1941. Oil on masonite. Sold at Php3,800,000.
Fernando Amorsolo. Under the Mango Tree. 1941. Oil on masonite. Sold at Php3,800,000.

Collectibles that have been sold at Salcedo Auctions include jewelry, timepieces (highest selling watch at a Philippine auction), furniture and decor, and valuable books.

TSM Rolex Cosmograph Daytona
ROLEX. A Very Collectible Vintage Cosmograph Daytona “Big Red.” Ref. 6263/0, Serial No. 9167529, Circa 1987, 37mm. An iconic and highly collectible watch, the 6263 Daytona is sought after by collectors around the world. It was made famous by actor Paul Newman, who was first photographed with a Rolex Daytona on his wrist in 1972. Sold at Php 2,569,000.
TSM radiant-cut champagne diamond drop earrings
A pair of 2.50 ct radiant-cut champagne diamond drop earrings, framed by round brilliant diamonds, all set in platinum, 18k yellow and white gold. Sold at Php 1,109,600.
TSM Art Deco 1920s Diamond Ring
An impressive Art Deco diamond ring, circa 1920s. Sold for Php 1,109,600.
TSM Kamagong Daybed
A kamagong daybed with bone inlay design. 91.5 x 198 x 110 cm (36 x 78 x 43 1/4 in). Sold at Php 700,800.
TSM Noli First Edition
Jose Rizal. Noli Me Tangere. Berlin: 1887. First Edition. Sold at Php 7,008,000 – a world record for a Philippine book at any auction.


Q&A with Richie Lerma

The art world can be quite intimidating, especially for new collectors. To better understand the value of a good art piece and how to best participate in an auction, Richie Lerma shares his insights and tips:

How can I know the real value of an art piece?

Art has always been considered as an object of value throughout history because it represents our higher ideals — beauty, knowledge, history, philosophy, intellectual and aesthetic pursuits — and since it goes beyond our basic necessities, it has also come to be a symbol of wealth, prestige, and power.

The value of art is determined by many different yet interrelated factors: contemporary taste or fashion, the stature of the artist, who is collecting the artist, the provenance of the work, and, of course, market forces of supply and demand.

How do I know if an art piece is real or not? Any tips in spotting a fake?

It is difficult for beginning collectors to know if an artwork is authentic or not so it’s always best to go to a trusted source with people who have the credentials to give a clear opinion on an artwork.

Being able to spot a fake takes many years of close and careful exposure to the real works so that nuances can be spotted. The key is connoisseurship which can only be built up over time through study, observation, and mentoring.

Certificates of authenticity are not always reliable documents to rely on, as these can be faked as well, or more commonly. issued by individuals or groups who have no credentials or expert knowledge to issue this.

Remember that not all family members of artists can be relied upon to issue these document. So, again, the key is to observe and ask those whose opinions can be trusted.


Some notable pieces sold at past auctions:

TSM Zobel 'Arganda'
Fernando Zobel. Arganda. 1961. Oil on canvas. Sold at Php16,352,000.
TSM Luna A Do Va La Nave HR
Juan Luna y Novicio. A Do…Va la Nave. 1885. Oil on canvas. 55 x 104 cm (21 1/2 x 41 in). This painting is the highest selling painting at a Philippine auction, sold at Php46, 720,000.

See how this exciting event unfolded:
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Please share some tips when investing in art. How do we know who to trust?

Things to remember when buying or investing in art:

  1. Trust your eyes and buy only what you like. However, I would recommend if you are not yet an expert collector to choose from a ‘pool of choices’ selected by recognized experts affiliated with a trusted source.
  2. Do not be influenced by hype. Look at the fundamentals — why is this artist important and who says so? Is the artist being collected by important collectors or institutions?
  3. Be cautious about overpaying. You can avoid this by studying or asking about the price history of an artist.
What are the guidelines for participating at an Art Auction?

As a buyer, first check the auction catalogue. The basic information is in the caption, and the price listed is known as the auction estimate. This gives a general idea of around what price the artwork can sell.

All proper auction houses will never publish a price that is not real, meaning that the reserve price (or the lowest price at which the artwork can sell) will either be at the published low estimate price or even lower, but never higher. This is to ensure that the auction is fair and transparent.

Once you see something you like, come to the auction preview to inspect the artwork. Ask questions. Look carefully at the condition of the work. Once you have decided on a piece and up to what price you want to bid for it, register for the auction to secure a bid paddle.

At the auction, the auctioneer opens the bidding which can be even far below the published estimate. If you are prepared to bid at that price, raise the paddle and wait to be acknowledged. Bids are taken at higher increments until the last and highest bid is acknowledged when the auctioneer’s hammer falls and he announces “Sold!” and notes the paddle number of the successful bidder, who will pay the hammer price plus the 15% buyers premium and 12% VAT on the premium.

Where to start? Salcedo Auctions’ upcoming event, Important Philippine Art, will be on March 12 at Three Salcedo Place Sale Room. Here are some highlight paintings from the auction:

TSM Ang Kiukok Harvest
Ang Kiukok. Harvest. 2001. Oil on canvas. 122 x 61 cm (48 x 24 in). Estimate: Php 3,000,000 – 3,300,000.
TSM Kiukok - White Fish in Blue
Ang Kiukok. White Fish in Blue. 1987. Oil on canvas. 87.6 x 92.7 cm (34 1/2 x 36 1/2 in). Estimate: Php 3,000,000 – 3,300,000.
TSM Geraldine.Javier_Blood Type C (Catholic) Major Major G (Guilt)
Geraldine Javier. Blood Type C (Catholic), Major Major G (Guilt). 2011. Oil on canvas, tatting lace, fabric and beeswax. 198 x 375 x 15.7 cm (78 x 147 1/2 x 6 in). Estimate: Php 2,700,000 – 3,000,000.
TSM Botong, Gethsemane
Carlos “Botong” Francisco. Gethsemane. 1958. Oil on canvas. 82 x 71 (32 1/3 x 28 in).

Or you may be interested in the auction on Fine Jewelry and Timepieces. (Auction date: Sunday, March 13; Preview: February 27 to March 12.) Here are some pieces of interest at this event:

TSM Salcedo Timepieces
[Left] CARTIER. A Diamond and Sapphire Lady’s Watch, 26mm. Estimate: Php 2,200,000 – 2,400,000. [Right] ROLEX. Oyster Perpetual Day-Date 40. Ref. 228238, 40mm. Estimate: Php 1,050,000 – 1,250,000.
TSM Salcedo Fine Jewelry
[Left] CARTIER. An important diamond ‘Peace’ brooch. Estimate: PHP 820,000 – 920,000. [Right] A pair of diamond drop earrings, D-F color, 5tcw, set in platinum, GIA certified. Estimate: Php 1,300,000 – 1,500,000.

Salcedo Auctions
Unit 104-B, Ground Level, Three Salcedo Place
121 Tordesillas Street, Salcedo Village, Makati City
Tel: +632 659 4094 / +632 823 0956 / Mobile: +63917 894 6550
Hours: Tuesday to Friday, 10 AM to 6 PM / Saturday, 10 AM to 4 PM


  1. I have been wanting to buy some really nice art for my new home. I liked what you said about how I should only buy art that I like. It does seem like I shouldn’t focus on getting art that has a lot of hype around it. It might be best for me to get a professional to help me buy the art.

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