TEMPO.CO, Hong Kong - A painting by former Indonesian court painter at the presidential palace, Lee Man Fong, has shocked the world of Indonesian and Southeast Asian art. One of his paintings entitled "Bali Life" was auctioned offon Sunday for HK$35.9 million (US$4.66 million) or approximately Rp54.8 billion at Hong Kong’s Christie’s.
The large 100 x 243 centimeter painting signed in Chinese letters was the "most expensive painting sold in the history of Indonesian and Southeast Asian art", art expert and curator Agus Dermawan T. told Tempo on Wednesday.
Agus said this is the first record broken in Indonesian art for 17 years. Previously, a painting by maestro Raden Saleh broke the record at Singapore’s Christie’s when it was auctioned off for Rp28 billion.
Agus said collectors from Singapore, China and Indonesia fought for possession of Lee Man Fong’s painting as they all feel like Fong is a part of them.
Lee Man Fong was born in Hong Kong on November 14, 1913. When he was young, his family moved to Hong Kong. Not long after his father died, he decided to move to Jakarta where he caught the eye of Indonesia’s first president Sukarno, who then appointed him as a court painter for the presidential palace.