|Surprise sale of unknown artist, Kayode Esho’s, Yes I Can (pastel on paper, 24 x 19 in., 2009) N850, 000|
In Lagos, art auctions shake off recession
By Tajudeen Sowole
IT started with the N13.5m record sale of Ben Enwonwu’s Untitled (ink on paper, 37.5 x 32 in., 1980) at the third edition of Terra Kulture art auction. While some of the audience, shortly after the hammer sales inside Terra Kulture’s multi-purpose hall, argued that the work, Lot 15, was overvalued, others cautioned that such sale stressed the unpredictable taste of collectors.
|Ben Enwonwu’s Untitled (ink on paper, 37.5 x 32 in., 1980) N13.5m|
Five days later, at the Civic Centre, Victoria Island, ArtHouse Contemporary’s seventh edition, though largely maintained its figures for most of the regular artists, but also produced what has been regarded as “surprise sales.”
Though not ranked among the top five lots sold, the result, however showed that two of these works were, sub-consciously, undervalued. At asking price of N30, 000, the first bidder of Kayode Esho’s, Yes I Can (pastel on paper, 24 x 19 in., 2009) must have thought that it was going to be a smooth sail, even after the work was bidding close to N100, 000. However, the beauty, perhaps, drama of auction soon started unfolding as more bidders showed interest, until Yes I Can – true to its title – proved that no artist or work should be underrated. It was sold at N850, 000.
|Ben Enwonwu’s African Dances (cold cast, resin bronze, 40.5 in., 1982-89), N8m|
Earlier, the highest sold, Ben Enwonwu’s African Dances had also shown similar thrill in haggling when the auctioneer, John Dabney threw in a psychological bait by asking for N3m for the work estimated to sell at N6m to 7.8m.
Top five of the sales are: Enwonwu’s African Dances (cold cast, resin bronze, 40.5 in., 1982-89), N8m; Ghanaian artist, Victor Butler’s Waiting on God (oil on canvas, 86 x 71 in., 1985) N6.2m; Enwonwu’s Untitled (oil on board, 22.5 x 18.375 in., 1981) N3.8m; Enwonwu’s Drummer (bronze, 23 in., approx 1970s) N3.3m; Bruce Onobrakpeya’s Tottem of the Delta (copper foil relief on board, 57 x 72.5 in., 2004) N2.9m.
At a total sale of N74, 080, 000, representing 80 percent sales, the auction was an improvement on ArtHouse’s last outing in November 2010. Indeed, the art market was showing signs of remarkable recovery as Terra Kulture’s auction earlier indicated with N51.7m worth of sales for 51 lots, representing almost 50 per cent of the total lots for sale. Although this was a drop in volume sales compared to the auction house’s second edition held last year, which recorded approximately 70 percent sales, it however improved from N35m total sales. Perhaps, over 50 percent works unsold, was an indication that the total of 113 lots put on sale was too much.
Top five sales for Terra Kulture further stressed that the auction house made an improvement: Enwonwu’s Untitled (ink on paper, 37.5 x 32 in, 1980), N13.5m; David Dale’s Tribute to African Woman (charcoal and watercolour, 26.6 x 37 in., 1995), N5. 5m; Bruce Onobrakpeya’s Dance in the Bush (etching, 40 x 115 in. 1998), N3m; Yusuf Sina’s Mood of Nation (oil on canvas, 42.5 x 49.5 in., 1994) N3m; Okpu Eze’s Untitled (oil on canvas, 28.5 x 52.5 in., 1984) N2.5m.
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Founder, Onobrakpeya, while thanking ArtHouse noted that the workshop has grown such that participants from overseas took part in the last edition.
For ArtHouse, art auction with Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) started during the November 2010 sales when wife of the former Governor of Cross Rivers State, Onari Duke’s Calabar Women and Children Hospital (CWCH) got a boost. The works auctioned in support of the hospital had impressive sales as two works from Osodi, and each of Kainebi Osahenye and Rom Isichei were sold as charity lots. The total sales, (without any deduction), ArtHouse assured “goes to CWCH.”