Monday 3 December 2012

How traditional African objects raked in dollars at auction abroad without convincing provenance

The cultural objects, it was reported led the top sales at Bonhams tribal art auction of November sales tagged African Oceanic and Pre-Columbia art auction in New York. These objects of ancient African origin may have given the auction house its most impressive record till date in that category of sales, but the provenance of these works are shrouded in silence.

Sources said the auction room was packed with buyers from across the world just as "phone lines were busy through out the sales for online bidding."

Although Bonhams’ Director of African, Oceanic & Pre-Colombian Art, Frederic Backlar stated that “Quality works of art, fresh to the market, and with excellent provenance, did very well at all price levels,” details of the provenance were not convincing. Bonhams tagged the provenance: “Henri Kamer, New York and Paris Private Collection, New York.”
A Rare Senufo Equestrian Figure from the Ivory Coast brought auctioned for $61,500

And that he disclosed that the top three lots of the auction were of African origin confirms the thirst for these objects of unconvincing provenance. "The top three lots all hailed from the African section of the sale, illustrating the lingering fascination with the visually arresting figurative imagery common in traditional African art," Bonhams stated.
 Most of the African objects in circulation in the U.S. and Europe were alleged to have been illegally taken out of Africa.

Among the sales at the bonhams auction were what was described as a Rare Senufo Equestrian Figure from the Ivory Coast brought auctioned for $61,500; an uncommon Baule Male Standing Figure (Ivory Coast) old for $47,500; geometric Sikasingo/Buyu Male Figure (Democratic Republic of the Congo) beat the pre-sale estimate and sold for $36,900. 

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