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Vietnamese Painting Sold for Record Amount at Hong Kong Auction

A painting by Le Pho, a 20th-century Vietnamese artist, sold for nearly US$1.2 million at an auction in Hong Kong on Sunday.

According to Tuoi Tre, the painting, called Family Life (Doi Song Gia Dinh), sold for US$1,172,080 at an auction held by Sotheby's, the presitigious fine arts auction house. This sum smashed the previous record for a Vietnamese artwork of US$844,000 set by another work by Le Pho in 2014. 

The painting, which was completed between 1937 and 1939, depicts a mother and child in front of a lively countryside background. The piece was completed using ink and gouache on a silk canavas, the news source reports. 

Art experts believe the record sale will help put Vietnamese fine art on the international map. "This is a crucial milestone, as it proves that somewhere in the corner of Asia, a Vietnamese painter has made his name known to the world," Ngo Kim Khoi, a Paris-based art appraiser, told the newspaper. 

"The sale also brings hope that Vietnamese paintings will be sold at higher prices in the future, which is generally how the market operates," Khoi added. 

Meanwhile Vu Tuan Anh and Tran Quoc Hung, who run the local auction house Chon, shared with Tuoi Tre their shock that it took so long for Le Pho to reach this point. "Le Pho's painting have been continuously auctioned by two of the most prestigious auction houses in the world (Christie's and Sotheby's) for half a century, so it should come as no surprise that one of his works would eventually surpass the US$1 million mark," they said. "What is surprising is that it took so long for Pho's works to reach the milestone."

However Khoi warned that Vietnamese artists will only get the credit they deserve if counterfeits are kept off the market. Last year, for example, a painting supposedly by Bui Xuan Phai sold for US$102,000 during a charity event in Saigon. The artwork was only discovered to be a fake after the fact. 

"The true value of Vietnamese art will only be recognized if collectors, appraisers and those involved join hands in eradicating fakes," Khoi told the paper.

[Photo via Thanh Nien]

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