Bonhams had a big score in their Africa sale:
Anyanwu by the pioneering Nigerian sculptor and painter, Ben Enwonwu, was sold for an auction world record price of £353,000 at Bonhams Africa Now – Modern Africa Sale in London on Wednesday 15 February 2017. It had been estimated at £150,000-200,000. In total, the sale made more than £1.4 million.
Widely considered the artist’s masterpiece, the 6ft 10 high statue was first conceived in 1954, when Enwonwu was commissioned to create a work marking the establishment of the National Museum in Lagos, outside of which it still stands. He made a number of versions of the statue in different sizes over many years – subtly altering the concept with each edition – but this was the first full-sized cast to come to auction. It is from the second edition cast in 1956, and is believed to the only one of this size from the second edition in existence.
Bonhams Director of African Art, Giles Peppiatt, said, “Ben Enwonwu was the first important Nigerian artist to reflect the sculptural traditions of his people in his work. Nowhere is this more spectacularly displayed than in his masterpiece Anyanwu. As the result achieved indicates – this is a new world record for an Enwonwu sculpture – there was fierce bidding to secure the right to own this exceptional and moving piece.”’