More than $20,000 was raised for local arts charities yesterday when Christie’s auctioneer Lionel Gosset sold works from around the globe at Raffles Hotel Le Royal.
Around 100 people turned out for the ReCreation 2014 Christie’s Charity Auction to bid on 47 paintings, sculptures, garments, pieces of jewellery and other handicrafts.
Frenchman Thomas Pierre’s acrylic painting Galerie des Glaces raised the highest bid at $2,300 while other items that found buyers included a Japanese-style tanto knife from Citadel Knives, a water buffalo sculpture made of hay by artist Nou Sary and a black dress by designer Sok Chandara.
All proceeds went to art advocacy NGOs Cambodia 2000 and Amrita Performing Arts.
“We raised $26,000,” said Gosset, who previously conducted ReCreation’s first charity auction, which was for Cambodia Living Arts, in 2012.
Despite the distance from France, where Gosset has auctioned artwork by masters including Victor Hugo, Henri-Georges Clouzot and Rochas, he said that Cambodia’s art auctions are much the same as those at home.
The event was less successful than the first charity auction, said Madeleine de Langalerie, founder and CEO of ReCreation.
“I’m a little bit disappointed right now, because I thought it would have been better,” De Langalerie said, adding that she suspected yesterday’s political rally by the opposition dampened the mood.
“The first one two years ago was great fun, because it was the first time and there was a lot of excitement. This time was much more difficult because I think of the [political] situation here: the traffic outside, demonstrations, people were late.”
De Langalerie added that the event was complicated further when it was moved from Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra despite the fact that Galerie des Arts, a three-month exhibition being held in conjunction with the auction where the artists may sell their work, is at Sofitel.
“The changes were difficult to explain and a lot of people went to Sofitel instead of coming here,” she said.
However, representatives from both Amrita and Cambodia 2000 said they were grateful for the money raised.
“In Cambodia, the culture of philanthropy is not very strong like [it is] in the US or Europe, so from this kind of event the money will go to support our projects that we’re doing,” said Rithisal Kang, executive director of Amrita, which promotes contemporary dance and theatre in the Kingdom.
Princess Norodom Veasna Diva Sirivudh, spokesperson for Cambodia 2000 and sister-in-law of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk, said that the auction did more than just raise funds for her NGO.
“This is a good thing happening for us, and we are very pleased and honoured for Christie’s to choose our association to be part of the beneficiaries,” she said.
Cambodia 2000, which was founded by the late HRH Norodom Vacheahra in 1996, launched two new programs late last year, the first donating free art supplies to rural schools and the second supporting emerging artists in search of financial aid.
While most of the art came from Cambodians or expatriates in the Kingdom, some of the work was unrelated to Cambodia.
Gwen McKenzie, a tourist from New York whose sculpture sold for $100, said that she decided to donate an art piece after being told about the auction by a friend based in Phnom Penh.
“I do a lot of pottery, but I’m not a full-time potter, so I really don’t have time to promote things, so it’s really nice when someone likes your work and pays for it, particularly for a charity,” she said.