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Alakija, London auctioneers unite to promote African art


Mr. Ali Zaini; Founder, Rose of Sharon Foundation, Mrs. Folorunso Alakija; and Business Manager, Harrods, Miss Camilla Cherrington… in London

Mr. Ali Zaini; Founder, Rose of Sharon Foundation, Mrs. Folorunso Alakija; and Business Manager, Harrods, Miss Camilla Cherrington… in London

Businesswoman, Mrs. Folorunsho Alakija’s NGO project, Rose of Sharon Foundation (RoSF) and U.K, London-based auction house, Bonhams have found a common cause in the promotion of African art.

At the May 2015 edition of Bonhams-organised ‘Africa Now’ auction in London a few days ago, RoSF partnered with Bonhams to host the VIP reception of the event.

A statement from the foundation said the event, which was sponsored by Deutsche Asset and Wealth Management, had in attendance Mrs. Alakija, members of the Board of Trustees, Directors at Bonhams & Deutsche Asset and Wealth Management hosted British and African VIP’s, influential art collectors and captains of industries to the event.

Alakija noted that the hosting of the event by RoSF was to bring awareness to the work of the foundation and its desire to partner with organisations, individuals, among others in the areas of health care services, technology as tool for capacity building and educational training opportunities for its numerous widows, their children and orphans.

The statement added that guests expressed their desire to partner with the foundation just as they were delighted “for the opportunity to attend what turned out to be such an extremely well attended event.”

However, the May 2015 edition of the yearly ‘Africa Now’ auction, which featured works of Nigerian artists and others from across the continent, has recorded quite a new set of records. The results of the auction showed total sales of £827,000 (N256 million).

On behalf of the auctioneers, Julian Roup said the “new records were from Erhabor Emokpae (Nigerian, 1934-1984) ‘Eda’, sold for £10,625; Ato Delaquis, (Ghanaian, born 1945) ‘Flamboyants’, sold for £9,375; Bernard Matemera (Zimbabwean, 1946-2006), ‘Elephant Spirit’ sold for £7,750; and for a wooden sculpture by El Anatsui (lots 64 and 65 sold for £62,500 or $100,000 each.)”

According to Roup, the top ten sales were dominated by the works of two Nigerian artists, Dr. Ben Enwonwu and Prof. Yusuf Grillo. Also, Enwonwu, was rated as the most valuable sale at the auction. “Enwonwu, an elegant bronze figure ‘Anyanwu Simplified’ which bears many similarities to the sculpture commissioned for the National Museum of Lagos in 1958. It was the top lot in the sale at £74,500. His painting ‘Africa Dances’ 1973 depicting an energetic dance that serves as a metaphor for Africa’s identity sold for £68,500 was the second highest price.”

Giles Peppiatt, Director of African Art at Bonhams, according to Roup said: “Once more, records fell in our ‘Africa Now’ sale. The strength of demand from buyers for this newly appreciated art is growing steadily. Sales and exhibitions and media coverage of this phenomenon is helping to drive interest which is fantastic news for a whole new generation of African artists.”

For Bonhams, the sales have the capacity to change the texture of history. “When art historians look back on the 20th Century, the voices and vision of a small group of trail-blazing artists whose lives bridged the gap between Africa and Europe will be seen and heard to be hugely significant.

“The ‘Africa Now’ auctions at Bonhams showcase works by these African Masters, along with many others from across the continent: Mozambique, Ghana, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo were all represented.

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