When I was in my 20s, I took my first job as a writer at the Daily Globe before deciding to follow my dream and study fashion design in New York.
Four years later, I came back to do fashion, but in the years that followed, I switched back between writing and fashion. I was already in my 40s when I considered my struggles over.
Times have certainly changed. When I look at 20-somethings today, I think about how different they are and how lucky to have other options to make money—what with social media and self-promotion. It’s all about the likes and numbers.
That’s why I was impressed to meet three young women who doing things differently, and brave enough to join the grown-up world of luxury auctions.
Casa De Memoria was started by (L-R) Camille Lhuillier (marketing manager), Angelique Miranda (director), and Tiffany Mathay (operations manager), who all love and appreciate art.
What makes Casa De Memoria different from other Philippine auction houses is that many of their pieces are European and date back to the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.
Last May, among the pieces sold during their first auction was a pair of Art Deco diamond earrings.
Nearly two carats, the earrings were sold at almost Php 1 million from an initial bid of Php 830,000. Other prized pieces were sacred images in bronze and ivory (made before the worldwide ban on ivory) and art works, including a painting of King Philip II of Spain.
A 19th century malachite-mounted console table from Italy was sold for almost Php 1.5 million.
Their buyers are usually collectors in their 30s and 40s who appreciate not only the art works but also the jewelry.
Their first auction had 235 lots while the second one on July 30, 2016 will have 250.
The second auction will include modern pieces, such as a painting by Portuguese artist Carlos Carreiro called Super minhocas e a Casa dos Bicos (or “Super worms and the home of the nozzles”), which depicts the historic Casa dos Bicos in Lisbon, Portugal in Surrealist style.
Another relatively modern piece is a bronze sculpture of a naked cabaret woman by John Koch.
Check out her heels
Camille, 25, heads a small team that includes two in-house historians, while the back-of-the-house team is made up of researchers and restorers.
“Our historians and researchers study books instead of just looking at the Internet. A lot of heart is involved in the research. They really love what they are doing. We all do,” said Camille.
She was seven when her family left the Philippines to live in Europe. That’s where she learned to appreciate and love art, seeing sculptures in the park or going to museums.
She came back to the Philippines four years ago and realized she wasn’t ready, so she left again. Two years ago, she came back when she realized the art scene was booming.
“When my sister Angie asked me to join Casa De Memoria, I was very happy to do so. I was finally ready,” she said.
Tiffany, 27, studied fashion communications in Spain and before working for Stores Specialists Inc. in the Philippines. She’s the one who takes care of the retail side of the business.
With the help of a branding agency, they developed a logo that depicts an 18th century house that they are moving into later this year.
“We have big plans for Case De Memoria. Our future Roxas Boulevard location is more suited for what we do so our clients will have a feel for the pieces, unlike here (in Makati) where they can be easily distracted,” said Camille.
Casa De Memoria’s permanent home will also house a restoration facility run by the auction house’s art scholars.
“One of our goals is to support art education in the Philippines. We don’t have the specifics yet but we would like to donate part of our auction proceeds to a foundation that supports art appreciation among students,” said Tiffany.
“Casa De Memoria is definitely a bigger endeavor than just being an auction house,” said Camille. “Because it is a temporary home for the pieces, we want it to be a home to our clients, artists and anyone who is interested in art.”
The pieces in Casa De Memoria’s care right now came from only one family (it’s a big one, they said). But anyone can have their antique pieces appraised at the auction house and leave it with them on consignment. Restoration is done at the owner’s expense, while appraisal is a separate service that is offered to owners of art pieces who just want to know what they are worth.
“All the pieces are authenticated. We require the owners to show the certificates of ownership and provenance. Then, our historians and appraisers look at the items and study them,” said Camille.
The house works on commission, taking 15% of the sale without charging other fees, but 5% of the commission will go to a foundation.”
Visit Casa De Memoria is at Jupiter corner Comet Street, Bel Air, Makati.
To know more, like them on Facebook.