Sotheby’s Phenomenon on Vietnamese public mass media

To get prepared for auction on October 6th in Hong Kong, official website of renowned Sotheby’s auction firm (name of website) posted five pictures of Bui Xuan Phai, with scheduled price fluctuated from 120.000 – 200.000 KHD.
(Image captured their interfaces on website)
After having received foregoing information, Artist Bui Thanh Phuong, son of late artist Bui Xuan Phai made an urgent response to Sotheby’s auction firm in purpose of warning that: four out of five pictures that they would bring out for sale were forgery. In vain, such efforts of the artist fell in complete silence. Sotheby’s merely gave its view after series of Vietnamese news and mass media got started to raise its voice on this reality. On October 5th 2008, Sotheby’s withdrew whole of five pictures down, afterwards auction took place without any presence of artist Bui Xuan Phai‘s pictures. However, on October 9th 2008, according to information on Sotheby’s website shown that they already sold 3 out of 5 above pictures: two pictures on Cheo by colorful powder and another picture namely Red cat, two left pictures still outstanding. (Link of website)
Not yet did the phenomenon stop still, on October 20th 2008, in letter of replying reporter of Vietnamese Press Agency in Hong Kong, spokesman of Sotheby’s refused completely artist Bui Thanh Phuong’s accusation. They said that statements of Bui Thanh Phuong were “unequal and lack of technical analysis”. This auctioneer ensures that all of Bui Xuan Phai’s pictures sold in the year hereto were truthful.
Contrary to therein before confirmation, a very fact that Sotheby’s did not answer warning letters of artist Bui Xuan Phuong impolitely, withdrew all pictures seemed to want to erase intentionally proof and did not show any cooperation and goodwill.
As a water dropping overflows a cup, the foregoing phenomenon called back unhealed injury of Vietnamese Art: evil on forger replicated pictures, especially in case of renowned auction firm as Sotheby’s with professional, artful and experienced assessors but still to be short – changed regettably, to pass through into auction room many “fault”, replicated pictures in conforming to artist Bui Xuan Phai’s pictures.
Practice makes the best view, with reputation and famous name of Bui Xuan Phai, his fan needs to take care of wide – opening, easy circulation for his works on market. An unimaginable thought that you step into a certain small gallery and find out Phai’s picture by chance is not possible to exist. Even taking participation in big – size auction, be able to buy fully valuable pictures inexpensively, is also very suspicious. Collectors are impossible to bring their assets for sale; and at this time only being-existence for “input” but not being – existence for “output” of picture anymore. Therefore, a cautious and meticulous testing of seller is not redundant.
Around this issue, some big Vietnamese newspapers raised their voice to warn of such phenomenon with hope of a brighter future for Vietnamese Art.

Youth Newspaper:
Son of Bui Xuan Phai have desire of taking proceedings against Sotheby’s
The renowned Sotheby’s auction firm around the world has just made a decision of putting five works of artist Bui Xuan Phai on auction shelves on October 6th in Hong Kong, with price about 120.000 – 200.000 HKD (approximately from 252-420 Million Vietnam Dong). However, Bui Thanh Phuong artist, son of late Bui Xuan Phai, declared that he would bring the case to French court if Sotheby’s still carried out auction.
In Bui Xuan Phuong’s opinion, for whatever reasons, mentioned as below: four out of five pictures, which scheduled for auction were forgery. Two professional collectors of Phai’s pictures are: Tran Hau Tuan and Gerard Chapuis also confirmed they were drawn under model of stylistic imitation but in awkward way.
The starting of the case against an overseas renowned auction firm is very costly, but Bui Thanh Phuong affirmed he would like to follow the case to the end. This is not only for reputation of late artist Bui Xuan Phai but also for safe of great deals of Vietnamese artists’ pictures which can be replicated and put up to auction on international market, lose customer’s belief.

Young Age Newspaper:
Finding out proof for Bui Xuan Phai’s Fault Picture
Some pictures thought to be original works of Bui Xuan Phai put up to auction by Sotheby’s in Hong Kong (the leading auction firm in the world, with history of establishment from the middle of 18th century) in the beginning of October seemed to be merely replica of the being – displayed originals in Vietnamese Artistic Museum.

The replicas sold by Sotheby’s found out in Artistic Museum by Young Age Newspaper’s reporter comprise of: scene of Nguyen Binh street, (Sotheby’s offered by the name as Village), before performance hours (Sotheby’s offered by the name as Cheo actors). Both of them are in a significant collection of Vietnamese Art purchased from the seller namely Philip Ng. On the general web on artistic auctions, in the last year there were 13 pictures of Bui Xuan Phai put at auction by Sotheby’s Bui Xuan Phuong artist said that only two of this total were truthful hereinafter: Da Nang street (auction name as: street scene) and Red cat. In 1997, the false picture namely Da River of Bui Xuan Phai was offered by auctioneer Christie’s and afterwards a Vietnamese artist detected. Christie’s was obligatory to pay back money and said sorry to the purchaser. Great deals of Vietnamese artist and several foreign collectors told that the first and the most serious Vietnamese victim on international false pictures was Bui Xuan Phai’s picture.

Woman Online:
Not yet sue … already win?

Artist Bui Thanh Phuong said that: “False pictures are not only to go down prestige of artist, but also to go down remarkably picture price of such artists on picture market”. If Phai’s pictures had protected and had strateg on copyright as foreign countries, their price would have surely been different… false pictures damages to benefits of real picture collectors. Once upon a time, abundant foreign collectors raised their voice to strongly oppose false pictures cornering real picture market. I transferred my intention of bring to the court against Sotheby’s beforehand, a French collector possessed many Phai’s pictures also expressed his wish for bringing to the court against Sotheby’s, because false picture auctioneers make the real pictures price of late artist Phai went down mournfully.
At present, in Vietnam many collectors made wrong purchase of Phai’s false pictures. Although realizing this ashamed truth nobody is brave enough to destroy picture and then try to sell another collector instead. Because of this is a sensitive issue, indoor collectors ignored gently when I mentioned to take proceedings against Sotheby’s. Meanwhile many foreign collectors supported me enthusiastically. Raising my voice on this case will rouse regional picture purchasers. Once they realize to be bought false pictures they will pay them back and request payment. In case of getting trouble, they will take the same proceedings against to the auctioneer, pursuant to confirmation of family on the picture hereto. It is a convenient proof for me to bring the court against Sotheby’s for violating copyright.

VTV1 channel:
On October 7th 08, VTV1 interviewed and recorded blog 360 of Mr. Phuong, suggested many issues and pointed out numerous disadvantages such as: international market put up to auction for cultural heritage of Vietnam, as a result of the fact that such foreigners and overseas Vietnamese completely control. Upon from this resource (Vietnamese artistic works and antiques), beneficiaries collect millions of USD annually, whereas Vietnamese authors (their masterpieces brought to selling – shelves with the lofty price) are paid no benefit at all, even are unconscious of its selling – presence). Simply they sold them beforehand to foreigners but with a by far lower price.
In Vietnam, although there are some organizations, companies stand out to implement auctions but not yet gain any impressive effects, one partly reason for Vietnamese have not been capable to buy and pay high price for artistic works; on the other hand, domestic auctions only often reserve for some kind of commodity for example: car, apartment, land…. Meanwhile as for foreigners (are willing to pay high price to buy big valuable works) is hard to carry along these assets out of Vietnamese territory, due to biding regulations on customs. For these reasons why Vietnam makes artistic auction room for foreigners, and the same reason leading to Vietnamese artistic works stay in foreign auction room silently.

People’s Police
“I still continue to start proceedings to protect pictures of my father Bui Xuan Phai”
Exchanging to reporter of People’s Police Newspaper, artist Bui Thanh Phuong confirmed, he still keeps entirely his intention of starting proceedings against renowned Sotheby’s auction firm for putting at auction of false pictures which thought to be his father, famous artist Bui Xuan Phai. Artist Bui Thanh Phuong stated that, he is obligatory to carry out such intention and simultaneously to reveal private nature of “North Hanoi scholar”.

Re: You have already laid a petition, have not you?
Artist Bui Thanh Phuong: Not yet, because I am waiting for lawyer to discuss mutually.
Re: Are you sure that you will follow this case until the end?
Artist: Representative of Sotheby’s recently asserted that I am unequal and lack of technical analysis. I feel they are relatively ridiculous and humorous. As a result, all the more I have to let them see that they need to have a more cautious view on intellectual property of Vietnam. If they displayed false pictures they would be considered to breach intellectual property right. Therefore, I will purchase this case until the end. That also means private nature of “a North Hanoi scholar“.
Re: in your opinion, where is resource of false pictures from?
Artist: in all intents and purposes, many people pay attention to this issue. In order to confirm without an obvious illustration, I feel sorry. However in general, false picture resource I have ever caught a look in Vietnam and possibly confirmed that it is a part in Ha Thuc Can’s collection. Ha Thuc Can is an overseas Vietnamese, from past 1985-1986, he was an overseas Vietnamese collector, made journey to Vietnam to buy pictures. From past 1987, I had consecutive look and discovered that international people auctioned Phai’s pictures. There were pictures that in case contemporary artists gazed at would have to mock how unpolished the pictures drew, this really make me hurtful.
Re: on contrary to your opinion, even domestic opinions have shown that in collection of several famous collectors specialized at Bui Xuan Phai’s pictures also mixed with false pictures.
Artist: on this issue, mentioned to Tran Hau Tuan collector or anyone we need to have clues. Even a book, which Tran Hau Tuan and I jointly wrote and published, meets such and such rumor. Moreover, for instant, saying that Tuan uses false pictures we also need point out which false picture? If any, I am not also able to compromise him. However, saying without proof is denial of effort, endeavor of author. False pictures in Vietnam actually are existent, but people are risk of loosing too much value, they should not carry out any proceedings.

H.Sen – T.Huyen

Youth Newspaper:
Artist Bui Thanh Phuong: brings a proceedings instead of his father
After a broken out phenomenon, several foreign auction firms who sold false pictures of the famous artist Bui Xuan Phai, artist Bui Thanh Phuong had a conversation with Youth newspaper on his intentions, planning and determination on journey for finding justice of his father’s pictures…
After uproarious event on you will bring a proceedings against organization sold late artist Phai, decrease your father’s prestige, many colleagues in drawing field have shown their anxiety and contribute you to come back. Why are you still insist on continuing to bringing to the court against this firm?
I am fairly surprised before the argument to refuse of somebody, especially from some artists.
Annually on certain time, Sotheby’s and Christie’s auction firms will take consecutive replacement for organizing auctions of major artistic works in two positions stipulated as: Hong Kong and Singapore, this is an advantageous occasion for regional artists and collectors to establish new achievements on price ladder for each specific artist. South = East Asian countries evenly assign famous artists or reputable representatives who compete in turn for breaking annual selling -price record in region. Present situation is that Vietnamese price ladder has been climbed down for past years, main reasons for losing customers’ belief and refusing to control and take responsibility of the organizations.
My accusation against Sotheby’s selling false pictures is not only a broken out suddenly and temporary reflection but in practice I kept track of selling false pictures of Bui Xuan Phai of this organization for past years. Upon their forgery, cheating and robbery of Bui Xuan Phai reputation, they earned illegally profit of more than several million USD. Scale of original pictures of the renowned artist Bui Xuan Phai in this auction was only 2/10. That means if selling out ten pictures, good luck of having real pictures is two. Moreover, two originals are often tiny and seemed to be used for bait, so that selling – price of real pictures always are much lower than forgery. For now, I draw up a dossier and collect information, documents on transactions of Sotheby’s relevant to Bui Xuan Phai’s pictures from 1987.
Fee for following the case until the end will spend a relatively big amount of money in your pocket.
In spite of a fairly imaginative person, a thought of bringing to the court against any individual or organizations has never existed inside my mind. Action of bring to the court, for me, is a bad luck, it forces me deal with and get involved in, actually I feel no enthusiasm and excitement. My action should have stopped down when Sotheby’s received my warning letter in which I defined surely Bui Xuan Phai’s pictures prepared to sell at auction were forgery. In a while, as common sense, they need to response and re-adjudge their assignment.
On contrary, they neglected at all and set their own rights to use freely the name and reputation of artist Bui Xuan Phai in order to offer false, bad qualified artistic works. They cheated their customers in purpose of earn profit for its firms…
Tran Van Lam

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