‘Atlas’, a sculpture created by Ben Enwonwu, late Nigerian artist, has sold for a record sum of £378,000 ($519,826) on its debut at the Sotheby’s, the British-founded US auction house.


The latest season of Sotheby’s auction of modern and contemporary African art drew to a close on Wednesday.

It exceeded its pre-sale estimate of £1.7 million – £2.6 million to rake in a cumulative total of £2.7 million (about $3.7 million).

Participants hailed from 34 countries and over a third of buyers were transacting with Sotheby’s for the first time.


In its eighth iteration, the sale set six new artist records, including for the rising stars Joy Labinjo, Kudzanai-Violet Hwami, and Jadé Fadojutimi.

Leading was Enwonwu’s ‘Atlas’ which set a world record for a sculpture by the artist in its first auction appearance. A paper piece from Enwonwu’s ‘Africa Dances’ series also set a record after it raked in £189,000 ($259,913).

Among the six new artiste records set are ‘Folly’ by Demas Nwoko (Nigeria) which almost tripled its estimate to bring £226,800 /$311,895 (an estimated £60,000-80,000); and Elias Sime’s (Ethiopia) ‘Tightrope: Contrast’ at $190,603.


‘Mute Lives’ by Cameroonian artist Adjani Okpu-Egbe sold for £13,860 / $19,060 (est. £4,000-6,000) while Iba N’Diaye’s ‘Portrait d’Anna’ (Senegal) doubled its estimate to achieve £40,320 / $55,448 (est. £15,000-20,000)

Similarly, ‘A Boy with a Yellow Jerrycan’ by Ethiopian’s Nirit Takele got £8,190 / $11,263 (est. £3,000-5,000) as Samuel Fosso’s (Cameroon) ‘Le femme américaine libérée des années 70, Tati Series, 1997’ sold for $31,190.

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