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National Registry for Fine Art in the Philippines

Senator Loren Legarda has sought the creation of a National Registry for Fine Art that will chronicle existing Filipino artworks and guard against the production, proliferation, and sale of their forgeries.

Legarda, chair of Senate committee on cultural communities, has filed Senate Resolution No. 803, which directs the Senate committee on education, arts and culture to strengthen the Philippine Registry of Cultural Property by creating a National Registry for Fine Art.

“The National Registry for Fine Art will register all cultural properties deemed important to the country’s cultural heritage, especially works by artists with the titles Manlilikha ng Bayan and Alagad ng Sining. It will go a long way in ensuring the quick identification and destruction of forgeries committed against Filipino artists,” she stressed.

The senator filed the resolution in light of forged artworks by prominent Filipino artists being sold in the international market.

Legarda noted that just recently, the Friends of Manansala, an organization of art lovers and collectors of National Artist for Visual Arts Vicente Silva Manansala’s art production, sought the removal of an artwork called “The Bird Seller” in an auction catalogue by the international auction house Christie’s-Hong Kong.

The said artwork was attributed to Manansala and is similar to the artist’s original painting, “The Birdman”, which is already part of a prominent Manansala collection.

“The whereabouts of ‘The Bird Seller’ is now unknown and this raises the possibility it might again be passed off as genuine work, becoming available once again in the art market once the controversy dies down. Moreover, artworks of questionable provenance and authenticity but are attributed to Filipino artists both deceased and living have surfaced over the years,” Legarda pointed out.

The senator encourages living artists to register their artworks in the proposed National Registry for Fine Arts thru the current Philippine Registry of Cultural Property to provide information and reference on the provenance of important works.

She also said that by supporting the creation of private organizations composed of art collectors of known integrity and probity, the issue of provenance or origin of artworks created by now deceased artists may easily be established.

Legarda noted that Republic Act 9105, otherwise known as the Art Forgery Act of 2001, penalizes art forgery, such as affixing or causing to appear a usurped or forged signature or sign on any artwork of fine art imitating or reproducing any work of fine art with intent to deceive the public or the buyer as to the authenticity of the work.

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