As the final hammer sounded, the room was filled with triumph and cheers. The much anticipated Vietnamese art auction in October surpassed all expectations. The ground-breaking sale has propelled ancient and modern Vietnamese art to new heights of international recognition. On October 16, Millon auction house hosted its first auction featuring solely the Vietnamese genre. Head Asian art expert and specialist Jean Gauchet voiced his enthusiasm, “The sale is a testament to the depth of our global client base as well as the caliber of the artworks in the sale. It was a risk to organize a sale focusing solely on Vietnamese artworks, but after the tremendous success of the auction, it confirms the strength and potential of the Vietnamese market.”
Demonstrating global participation and a strong appetite amongst collectors for modern and ancient masterpieces, auction results echoed the strength of the current market. An imperial Chinese porcelain bowl made for the Vietnamese market featured the “Khan xuan thi sa” mark final hammer price fetched 110,500€. Also included was famous lacquer painter Nguyen Phan Chanh’s (1892-1984) painting which fetched 41, 600€.
A highlight of the sale focused on a group of Vietnamese artists who attended the beaux-art school in Hanoi. Alumni of the school include artists: Lê Phổ, Tô Ngọc Vân, Nguyễn Phan Chánh, Huỳnh Văn Gấm, Lê Thị Lựu, Nguyễn Sáng, Dương Bích Liên, etc. Specializing in the melange between french techniques and Vietnamese motifs, artist Dinh Van Dan’s (20th C), “La Pagode Thay” (100 x 140 cm) sold for 49,400€. Also notable was well-known artist Tran Phuc Duyen’s (1923-1993) lacquer coffee table that sold for 28,600€.
Some of Vietnam’s greatest artists are enjoying a moment of increasing world attention, especially those who studied at the French-influenced Fine Arts College of Indochina before World War II. Vietnam is one of Asia’s fastest-growing economies. If we look at TEFAF’s annual report, it shows that post-war and contemporary art represents 46% of the art market; it is no coincidence that Vietnamese modernist and post-war artists like Le Pho and Nguyen Phan Chanh have broken the auction records at Christie’s for Vietnamese artists in recent years.
The participation of new buyers has been a key factor in the overall strength showing in the market. In particular, buyers in Hanoi and Saigon, the two largest Vietnamese cities, have emerged to participate in unprecedented numbers in the auction market in Hong Kong. Their sense of cultural patrimony to buy and bring heritage home has strengthened the marketplace.