Africa: ‘the next China’ for contemporary art

May 17, 2015 7:37 am
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A series of seven wooden sculptures by Nigeria's Ben Enwonwu fetched 361.250 pounds - triple the estimate price/XINHUA-File
A series of seven wooden sculptures by Nigeria’s Ben Enwonwu fetched 361.250 pounds – triple the estimate price/XINHUA-File
LAGOS, Nigeria, May 17 – Giles Peppiatt, from Bonhams in London, had good reason to make the trip to Nigeria’s financial capital, Lagos, for the auction house’s next sale of African art – a glut of potential buyers.

On a recent visit, he described Africa as “one of our hottest properties on the art block”.

“In some ways, Africa is the new China when it comes to art,” he added. “We are investing time, money and people to maintain our presence in this market.”

Bonhams has blazed a trail in the sector, having organised its first “Africa Now” sale of modern and contemporary African art in 2007, which has since become an annual event.

Among its most expensive sales was “Arab Priest” (1945) by South African painter Irma Stern, which was bought by the Qatar Museums Authority for just over three million pounds (4.2 million euros, $4.7 million) in 2011.

“New World Map” (2009) – one of Ghanaian artist El Anatsui’s tapestries embroidered from crushed aluminium bottle tops and copper wire – went for nearly 550,000 pounds the following year.

A series of seven wooden sculptures by Nigeria’s Ben Enwonwu fetched 361.250 pounds – triple the estimate price.

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