Eng Hwee Chu — Black Moon 13, 1992.

AND here it comes again, the art auction everyone has been anticipating. The Henry Butcher (HBAA) Malaysian and Southeast Asian Art Auction is to be held at Balai Berita’s contemporary art space, Galeri Prima, in Bangsar.

Art auctions constitute one of the primary ways, and one of the most appealing, for collecting art.

Bidding can be an enthralling experience; there’s that rush of blood when seeing a piece you covet on the floor. And despite the art market being vulnerable to fluctuating fortunes and palates of the international elite, it’s flourishing still, in large part due to heavy demand for work by contemporary artists.

Art auctions began as a form of transaction among the privileged. In the early parts of the 1900s, art collectors purchased artworks for the singular drive of reselling them at much elevated prices.

That still goes on now, of course. Take the Robert and Ethel Scull’s collection of Modern and Pop Art in the 1970s which sold through the roof at Sotheby’s New York. They were undoubtedly the game changers.

The Scull Collection of roughly 50 pieces, which included works by Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, James Rosenquist, Roy Lichtenstein, Tom Wesselmann and Robert Rauschenberg, drew an unthinkable sum for those times (think Rauschenberg’s Thaw, bought for US$900 and sold for US$85,000, and Jasper John’s Double White Map, acquired for US$10,000 and sold at US$240,000, and arguably, one of the forces which set the tone for the art auction market.

The auction market suffered in the 1990s but has since steadily increased. Global players, predominantly in Asia and the Middle East, are manoeuvring much of the jaw-dropping bidding that you witness now.

But not everything, of course, sells well into the million dollar mark. Don’t be daunted though; if you’re just starting an art collection, auctions are some of the best places to go to, and art galleries, of course.

Amron Omar — Silat, 1974


For this edition, Henry Butcher Art Auctioneers is offering 144 lots of both contemporary and rare works.

The sale is led by a 1958 painting by National Art Laureate Datuk Syed Ahmad Jamal. The bid begins at RM75,000.

Some of the other highlights include works by Chia Yu Chian, Eng Hwee Chu’s 1992 Black Moon, Khoo Sui Hoe’s 1966 Praise of the Day, Dr Jolly Koh’s 1996 Surprise Falls, Yusof Ghani’s Topeng Series from 1994, and also Eng Tay’s paintings, lithographs and sculptures.

The list is certainly long. Henry Butcher Art Auctioneers will tempt you further with works by the marvellous Heri Dono, Leonardo Aguinaldo, Leo Abaya, Wire Tuazon, Ranelle Dial, Otto Djaya, Rudy Mardijanto, Victor Balanon, Doan Thy Hanh, Ha Tri Hieu, Erik Pauhrizi, Kirby Roxas, Januri, Rilantono, Bonny Setiawan, Cheng Shui, Angki Purbandano, Natthawut Singthong, Raul Rodriguez and Made Suarimbawa Dalbo.

Chia Yu Chian - Untitled, 1959

And then there are the rising stars such as Lim Keh Soon, Gan Tee Sheng, Cheong Kiet Cheng, Azliza Ayob, Siund Tan, Hisyamuddin Abdullah, Khairul Arshad, and perennial favourite Fadillah Karim.

This edition is an eclectic mix, all exciting and there’s something for everyone. “We’re confident that this time around, we’ll achieve better sales, especially in an exclusive venue such as Galeri Prima,” says Executive Director of HBAA, Polenn Sim.


It’s important to always do your research. See what’s available from the auction house’s literature and find out as much as you can about the works that you want, about the artist, and about the painting’s history.

Auction houses are more than happy to provide you with any information (within limits) you need. Another important thing to do, if possible, is to inspect the condition of the work. Auction houses will provide details of the works such as dimensions and titles and history, but very seldom inform potential buyers of the work’s actual state, as items are usually sold “as is”. It’s just like purchasing a car, or a home — similar rules — you want to know what you’re really getting.

When “A-Day” looms, there are several ways of bidding: in person, via online, through the phone — with every auction house having its own guidelines and practices. The auctioneer announces each piece or lot and bidding begins, and prices start low and soar until the last bidder is left the winner. Hopefully, you are that winner and you’ll be given information on payment methods and how the work/s will be sent.

Fadilah Karim — In Vague II, 2002.

Remember that the winner of any item sold is accountable for the hammer price, plus any buyer’s premium (12 per cent at HBAA) and also taxes. For example, if the hammer price is RM10,000, the buyer will pay an extra RM1,200 + a 6 per cent GST of the 12 per cent buyer’s premium (RM72), totaling RM11,272.

And after all is sealed and done, the work is all yours to enjoy. As Pablo Picasso said: “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life”.

About Henry Butcher

THE Malaysian art industry is on the rise, with increasing interest in art and a growing awareness of art as an asset class. Nevertheless, art collecting is still confined to a select group, while buying and selling is primarily done through dealers, galleries and the private base.

Transactions of Malaysian art in public auctions are few and far between, even by established international auction houses. The absence of a strong and transparent secondary market has, in a way, limited the growth of art collecting in Malaysia as well as institutional acquisition and investment in Malaysian art. Henry Butcher Malaysia, having had decades of asset auctioning experience, from real estate to plant and machinery, aspires to rectify this by providing an additional avenue of sale and purchase of art pieces for galleries, collectors and investors. Thus, the birth of Henry Butcher Art Auctioneers in 2009.

Henry Butcher Malaysian and Southeast Asian Art Auction

When: 23 April, 1 pm

Full Viewing until April 22, 10am -6pm daily

Where: Galeri Prima, Balai Berita, 31, Jalan Riong, Bangsar, KL

Web: www.curate.com.my

call: Polenn Sim +6016 273 3628 (polenn@hbart.com.my )

Elizabeth Wong +6013 355 6578 (elizabeth@hbart.com.my)

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