The continuously blooming Contemporary African Art auction results

The continuously blooming Contemporary African Art auction results

The continuously blooming Contemporary African Art auction results

The global art market is essentially characterized today by geographical regions, countries or continents. In that perspective, African art gaining momentum is reflected in the latest Sotheby’s London art sales of their new 2017 department on modern and contemporary African art. Already showcased worldwide in dedicated art fairs, exhibitions, foundations or museums, the contemporary African art scene is indisputably a hotbed of major talents. The most famous names under the spotlight are El Anatsui, Hassan El Glaoui, Skunder Boghossian, Ibrahim El Salahi, Ablade Glover, and Cheri Samba. With some entering auctions for the first time, they exceeded the price expectations, establishing new auction records for 11 artists. Congolese Cheri Samba’s painting “J’aime la couleur” from 2005 estimated around  £40,000-60,000 resulted in a £93,750 – $122,344 auction selling.

As expected, Ghana with the famous sculptural installation artist El Anatsui ranked at the top,  with the bottle tops tapestry  Zebra Crossing 2sold for about $1.5 million.

The works of the most recent and nonetheless swiftly growing artists like Congolese Eddy Kamuanga Ilunga are sought to become more and more in demand, and the current estimated prices are thus unlikely to remain the same.

Eddy Kamuanga -Illunga Palm

Morocco and Ethiopia’s art heritage are introduced with the paintings of Hassan El Glaoui “La sortie du Roi” and Alexander Skunder Boghossian “Harvest Scrolls”, the countries’ aiming to be the heart of Africa’s art, giving their national artists new platforms.

Nigeria, South Africa as major players already thrive through their own fine art auction houses, and through their artists’ international renown in the past years. (Nigerian artists like J.D. Okhai Ojeikere, Ben Enwonwu, Uzo Egonu were sold at the auctions)

The past sales by Bonhams had shown immense promise, but the London April 2 sales of over 75 lots are a testimony of a stratospheric rise, demonstrating the continuous chain effect for long-time celebrated masters but most importantly for young and booming contemporary artists. While native African collectors represented the majority of the buyers by far, Western collectors as well have shown a surge of interest for the important investment opportunities that the sales’ total of $3 million foreshadows. The interest from wealthy collectors and art institutions like Sotheby’s is influential in assessing once again that the African art market has a positive future and a global audience.

A Basquiat Skull Painting Breaks $100M at Sotheby’s

A Basquiat Skull Painting Breaks $100M at Sotheby’s

The most expensive skull of Basquiat sold to japanese collector Maezawa for $ 110.5 million at Sotheby’s in 2017 on show at Louis Vuitton Foundation

Jean-Michel Basquiat. Untitled, 1982. Acrylic, spray paint, and oilstick on canvas. 183.2 × 173 cm. Yusaku Maezawa Collection, Chiba, Japan © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York. Picture: Courtesy of Sotheby’s, Inc. © 2018


Thursday 18th May marked an unprecedented record at Sotheby’s New York during the Contemporary sales evening, making of Jean-Michel Basquiat the most coveted American artist with the sale of a skull painting over the $100 million barrier.

Untitled (1982) painting has been acquired for 110.5 million dollars by the billionaire Japanese entrepreneur and art collector Yusaku Maezawa, 41, founder of START TODAY an online fashion mall.This work becomes the second most expensive artwork ever auctioned, after Francis Bacon’sThree Studies of Lucian Freud (triptych, 1969) sold for $142,2  million at Christie’s in 2013.

Fervent to his love for Basquiat, Maezawa’s plan is to exhibit this and other acquired works in his hometown, Chiba, a city nearby the nipone capital. Among his collection, artworks from artists such as Jeff Koons, Alexander Calder, Bruce Nauman, Vincent Van Gogh and Richard Prince will be featured in his private museum.

Even though the museum’s construction is still on hold, Mr. Maezawa seems to know exactly how he envisions his institution as he stated he wants each art piece to breathe and to be thoroughly contemplated by his future audience.

Despite a short period of active creation, only 10 years, Jean-Michel Basquiat  (1960-1988) left a prolific oeuvre behind him. After his death, his artworks have attained staggering prices during auctions and sales placing him alongside great master such as Van Gogh or Pablo Picasso.