– A Nigerian painting has sold for a record breaking price
– The painting Tutu sold for a whooping N600m– It was made by well-regarded Nigerian artist Ben Enwonwu and it was previously reported missing
A Nigerian painting that was said to be missing for decades and was finally been found in a London home has been sold for a record breaking amount.
The painting of Adetutu ‘Tutu’ Ademiluyi, by Ben Enwonwu, recently went under the hammer at Bonhams auction house with bidders in Lagos allowed to participate for the first time.
Tutu is part of a set of three paintings created by Enwonwu around 1973, just a few years after Nigeria’s civil war ended. Enwonwu was reportedly walking in the Nigerian countryside when he met a beautiful young woman whom he just had to paint. The woman Tutu was a princess of Ife, in present day Osun state.
A worker at Bonhams auctioneers poses next to Tutu, by Nigerian artist Ben Enwonwu (Image courtesy Reuters/Peter Nicholls)
According to qz.com, the painting sold for a record $1.68million (N600m) to a bidder on the telephone during Bonhams’ Africa Now auction on February 28, 2018. Another Enwonwu painting, Negritude, sold for $140,000 (N55million) at the auction, their sales overshadowing the other works in the lot.
Award winning novelist Ben Okri described the painting as Africa’s Mona Lisa. “It amounts to the most significant discovery in contemporary African art in over fifty years. It is the only authentic Tutu, the equivalent of some rare archaeological find. It is a cause for celebration, a potentially transforming moment in the world of art,” he said.