A Buddhist monk recently offered 400 million VND (about 18,600 USD) for a painting recalling the bloody naval battle in Vietnam’s Gac Ma Island, the highest bid for the picture so far.

The oil painting by Bui Le Trang, measuring 1.6 metres by 2.2 metres, depicts Vietnamese naval soldiers building and protecting the island against the gun barrels of Chinese invaders. Sixty-four Vietnamese soldiers were killed in the battle on March 14, 1988.

Trang donated his work “Gac Ma – Vong tron bat tu” (Gac Ma – Immortal Circle) to the Tri Viet Book Company, which organised an auction to commemorate the fallen soldiers on War Invalids and Martyrs Day (July 27).

The money raised from selling the painting will be donated to the families of the 64 martyrs.

Venerable Thich Thanh Phong, Head of Vinh Nghiem Pagoda in Ho Chi Minh City, said he would present the painting to the entire Vietnamese nation if he wins the auction, reported the Vietnam News Agency’s The thao Van hoa (Sports and Culture) newspaper.

He deemed it the most meaningful auction of an oil painting ever held in Vietnam.

Before the monk, Dr To Van Truong, who represents the Vietnamese chapter of the Asian Institute of Technology Alumni Association, bid 300 million VND (around 13,950 USD) for the painting while US military analyst James G. Zumwalt offered 17,000 USD.

The painting will be up for auction until July 24.-VNA