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This commentary by Marion Maneker is available to AMMpro subscribers. (The first month of AMMpro is free and subscribers are welcome to sign up for the first month and cancel before they are billed.)
Sotheby’s Modern & Cont African Art = £4m
African art is having its own moment this week as Sotheby’s was able to sell 80-odd works from 56 artists who represented 20 countries in a £4m sale. They made nine records in the process.
The top works featured four paintings by Ben Enwonwu including one discovered through Sotheby’s valuation app. The portrait was unknown to Enwonwu collectors because it had remained in the hands of the subject’s family since its creation in 1971. Christine was offered with a ridiculously low estimate of £100k considering the recent performance of the artist’s portrait of Nigerian princess Tutu which sold for £1.2m in 2018. The low estimate brought out four bidders who would soon learn that there is no discount for Enwonwu’s works. Thirteen minutes of bidding drove the final price to £1.1m, pretty close to the previous year’s record. Enwonwu’s Africa Dances from 1970 also achieved £471,000 ($596,333) three times the low estimate of £150k. Ten Enwonwu paintings were offered and all 10 sold for a combined value of £1.8m ($2.3m) or 45% of the sale total.
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