Christie’s Auction Nets Over $26,000 for Cambodian Arts

The second charity auction ever held in Cambodia by the international auction house Christie’s ended Sunday with $26,260 being raised for two local arts organizations.

In barely one hour, auctioneer Lionel Gosset managed the sale of 50 artworks donated by Cambodian and international artists.

Christie's auctioneer Lionel Gosset strikes his gavel to confirm the sale of Ouk Socheathy's ceramic bowl for $180 Sunday afternoon. (Siv Channa)
Christie’s auctioneer Lionel Gosset strikes his gavel to confirm the sale of Ouk Socheathy’s ceramic bowl for $180 Sunday afternoon. (Siv Channa)

The highest bids were for Takakazu Yamada’s painting “Hazy Moon,” which fetched $4,500, and Thomas Pierre’s painting “Galerie des Glaces,” which sold for $3,200.

Heng Hun Sovann, who had modestly priced his ceramic “Elephant Soup Bowl” at $60, saw it go for $260.

As Mr. Gosset—a leading Christie’s auctioneer who came from Paris solely for the event—noted, this was not an easy audience to coax into bidding.

“One could see that the bidders were extremely selective,” he said after the auction. “They had arrived with their minds set on what they intended to buy and…did not let themselves be carried away in the heat of the bidding.”

And yet, excitement grew in the audience over the papier-mache elephant sculpture of Philippe Brousseau, which was finally sold for $300, about four times its estimated value. A 19th-century mahjong set donated as a last-minute entry by Phnom Penh resident Bertrand Boccador also created a stir when it sold for $850.

“The artworks as a whole were quite beautiful and more varied than two years ago,” said Jean-Louis Charon, a collector who purchased a metal-and-glass table and bench set by artist Khun Sotha.

The first Christie’s charity auction in Phnom Penh was held two years ago, during which a sculpture by leading artist Pich Sopheap fetched $9,000, bringing the amount raised to $40,000.

This first auction, which was also organized by Madeleine de Langalerie and her group ReCreation, which brings together volunteers to support the arts in Cambodia, attracted an audience of more than 300 compared to about 200 Sybdat.

Several bidders mentioned that the opposition CNRP rally on Sunday made it difficult for some people to reach Raffles Hotel Le Royal, where the event was held.

The auction was a fundraiser for Cambodia 2000, an organization funding training in traditional crafts, and for Amrita Performing Arts, which supports the development of Cambodian contemporary dance.

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