Thursday 23 May 2013

Enwonwu's Mystery fetches £300, Bonhams

Last night at Bonhams Africa Now auction, a set of 'lost and found' seven wooden pieces by late renowned Nigerian artist, Ben Enwonwu (1917-1994) sold for £361,250.

The works, provenance says,suddenly disappeared from the owners, Daily Mirror of U.K., "in 1960s, but just recovered last year from an old garage at Bethnal Green Academy, East London during a renovation work". The man credited with the recovery, builder Brian McDowwell, 65, was said to have shown the works to the school's authority who allowed him to have the works.

According to Bonhams, the set of works described as Seven wooden sculptures is a collection commissioned by the Daily Mirror in 1961. 
Seven wooden sculptures of Ben Enwonwu sold at Bonhams;' Africa Now auction

The sculptures, it was reported, “had been estimated to sell for £80,000 to £120,000 but tripled the high estimate to make £361,250”.

Enwonwu’s previous record was £125, 000 for a bronze piece, Anyanwu, sold at Arthouse Contemporary Limited’s auction in Lagos two years ago.

Giles Peppiatt, Head of African Art at Bonhams, stated: "African Contemporary Art took another step forward today with world record prices achieved. The national spotlight being cast on African art by Bonhams, the Tate and others has focused increasing interest on African artists and I am delighted to see them getting the recognition they deserve. As the only auction house offering a stand-alone sale of Contemporary African Art for the past five years, today's result pleases me very much."

Other works of Enwonwu, which made  impressive sales included The Durbar of Eid ul-Fitr, Kano, Nigeria, for £193,250, also beating the record held by Anyanwu. And for another Anyanwu, similar to the piece sold in Lagos, it was a good outing from an estimated £50,000-80,000 to a sale for £133,350. The work, according to Bonhams, is a small-scale version of the one at façade of the National Museum in Onikan, Lagos.

Also, Bonhams disclosed that new world records were set for over twenty other artists, including Erhabor Emokpae, Uche Okeke, Uzo Egonu and Tshibumba Kanda Matulu.

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