Bronze bust of Juan Luna withdrawn from auction after National Museum appeal

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 15) — Auction house Salcedo Auctions announced it is withdrawing the sale of a historical bronze bust of eminent Filipino artist Juan Luna — a day before it was scheduled to be auctioned off — following the request of the National Museum.

"The decision to withdraw the bust from the auction is done with profound respect and a deep sense of responsibility to preserving and protecting our nation's cultural heritage," Salcedo Auctions chairman and chief specialist Richie Lerma said in a statement on Friday.

Last week, the National Museum said in a letter that it believes Mariano Benlliure’s "Bust of Juan Luna y Novicio" is the same sculpture presented as a gift to the government of the Philippine Islands in Manila on October 22, 1922. It added it may have been one of the artifacts that were lost during the destruction of Manila in World War II.

National Museum director-general Jeremy Burns said the museum is the successor-in-interest to lost government properties from that time that these may surface "as it might be the case here."

Lerma explained that since the owners' acquisition of the bronze bust of the revered artist and political activist, there have been no claims of ownership by the National Museum or any other entity even when it was featured on the cover of Chronicle Magazine in 1967 and was catalogued by the Filipinas Heritage Library.

Nonetheless, Salcedo Auctions said it will continue its discussions with the museum and all information that will be presented will be considered before a final decision is made by the current owners.

Luna is one of the first internationally recognized Filipino artists. His magnum opus, the Spoliarium, won a gold medal at the National Exposition of Fine Arts in Madrid in 1884.