Art expert and contirbutor Richard Horstman gives us the ins-and-outs of art in Bali, especially for those looking to buy real art from real Balinese artists. These are best found at official auctions, to which Richard helps us guide our way through such an event:

Auction of art in Bali Larasati Auctioneers

Are you interested in art in Bali? Ever thought of buying at an auction?

Whether driven by your love of art, curiosity, or an eye for investment – buying at an auction can be an interesting and exciting way to grow your collection. To the novice, auctions may appear intimidating, for aspiring art collectors, however, auctions can provide an excellent point of entry into the marketplace.

Larasati Auctioneers, Indonesia’s oldest international auction house is a dedicated supporter of Balinese art. As specialists in auctioning Balinese traditional art, this year (2018) marks the twelfth year of its Bali auctions, held twice a year in Ubud. Offering an array of collectible items including paintings, sketches, prints and sculptures, their auctions present good opportunities for buyers with small to medium, and larger budgets.

Here are some tips for the inexperienced on how to buy art in Bali at one of the Larasati auctions:

Open for public viewing, the items for auction, or lots, are on exhibition a few days earlier at the Larasati Art Space in Ubud. There is always beautiful art from the Classical paintings to the renowned genres of Balinese modern traditional art, and some modern and contemporary works, on display. Two and a half days allows plenty of time for inspection and to learn more about the works for sale. The free auction catalogue will be your necessary companion to help in this process.

Not only does the catalogue include the details of each lot for sale with the artist’s name, title of the work, medium, size and of course the estimated price of the works market value, it also has the details of how to participate in the auction, along with the necessary post sale procedures. Be sure to read all the fine print. The Larasati website provides information and sales data from past auctions, access to online live bidding, along with the digital auction catalogue. You may wish to do more research about what you intend to buy and the Internet now has more and more information available on Balinese art.

Art is very personal and everyone has different tastes, same goes for the different types of art in Bali. The secret to buying art is to listen to your heart or inner voice. This way you will enjoy your purchase from the first moment you see it to everyday on the wall at home. Buying for investment takes know-how. Taking note of your budget is essential, and a buyer’s premium is payable on top of the final sales price of each lot.

On auction day, first register your intention to participate and you will receive your paddle with an identification number, which you shall raise to indicate to the auctioneer your wish to bid for a work offered for sale. Understand all the necessary responsibilities you have as a buyer – don’t hesitate to ask questions to the Larasati staff so that you are clear. Inquire if there is a condition report available on the works you are interested in, and knowing more about the works history (previous exhibitions, past sales records, provenance & certificates of authenticity).

Auction of art in Bali Larasati Auctioneers
Ocean Village Scene – by Wayan Bendi – Courtesy of Larasati
Auction of art in Bali Larasati Auctioneers
Bali Life – Made Sukada
Dialog Arjuna and Kresna - Made Sukada
Dialog Arjuna and Kresna – Made Sukada

What can you expect during the auction?

Auctions move at a swift pace so be attentive and its best to sit at the front of the room. The auctioneer monitors bids from telephone and Internet platforms along with live bidding from people within the room. Auctions become exciting especially when there is spirited competitive bidding quickly raising the prices.

How does the bidding process work?

The bidding process is straight forward, simply raise your paddle to indicate that you are willing to accept the amount offered by the auctioneer, which will also be indicated on the screen next to the auctioneer in Indonesian Rupiah, American, Singaporean and Hong Kong dollars. The items price will increase by increments and auctioneer will clearly address you, acknowledging they have accepted your bid. Works at auction often sell for prices much lower than that at galleries, or the artist’s studio, yet remember to set a price according to your budget that you are not prepared to go above.

Hopefully you will succeed in placing the bid accepted as the final sales price that will be confirmed by the fall of the auctioneer’s hammer. Congratulations, your diligence has paid off and you have just won the lot. Finally, complete the payment details and organise the delivery of your new art work.

This exciting experience will fuel your curiosity about buying art. Do your research and learn as much as possible through books and online, visit museums, galleries, artist’s studios, exhibitions, and more auctions. To train your eye, immerse yourself in Balinese art – and enjoy.

For the online catalogue and more information visit:

Larasati Bali Art Space at Tebesaya Gallery
Address: Jalan Jatayu, Banjar Tebesaya, Peliatan,
Ubud, Bali.

Richard Horstman

Richard Horstman

NOW! Bali Art Columnist, Richard Horstman. For over fifteen years Richard has been contributing to national and regional newspapers and magazines writing about art and culture. He is passionate about observing and reporting on developments in the local art and creative infrastructure, and the exciting emerging talent that is flourishing in Bali. IG: @lifeasartasia