Sotheby's Inaugural Sale of Modern and Contemporary African Art


As one of the leading art funds today, we play many roles in the art world. One major role is to help create a secondary market for up-and-coming artists through which they can reach a much broader audience and obtain the very best results for their work. For many artists, we are the first to provide them with the opportunity to reach a secondary market through auction houses, private collectors, and our many valued connections in the art world.

Sotheby’s first Modern and Contemporary African art sale held on May 16th in London was the perfect platform to expose our artists to an international audience and showcase their brilliant work. The auction was a direct reflection of the increase in market demand for African Art over the past decade, featuring pieces by more than sixty different artists from fourteen countries across Africa, several of which making their debut. The sale realized a total of nearly $4 million – a new record in this category.

The main attraction of the sale was a Tiroche DeLeon Collection work by the Ghanaian artist El Anatsui. "Earth Developing More Roots" (2011) a sculpture made from discarded aluminum bottle caps and copper wire went for 728,750 GBP. El Anatsui, Earth Developing More RootsIn addition to its impressive realized total, the auction saw many artists achieving record-breaking prices, three of which with works from our collection.  

Yinka Shonibare, a Nigerian-British artist, achieved a ground breaking record of 224,750 GBP against an estimate of 120,000-180,000 GBP for "Crash Willy" (2009), a most unique piece depicting a headless driver dressed in printed African textile strewn across the back of a vintage car.  In 2010, this work was the highlight of the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy in London and the recipient of The Royal Academy of Arts Charles Wollaston Award for ‘Most Distinguished Work’. Prior to the sale, we worked with Sotheby's to prepare a brochure of Shonibare's extraordinary piece to make sure it circulated properly in both public and private museums. Yinka Shonibare, Crash Willy

For South African artist, David Goldblatt, we reached a record price of 17,500 GBP for "Diepsloot" (2009). This is the very best result achieved for a single photograph by this artist. In addition to Goldblatt's upcoming retrospective at the Centre Pompidou, another edition of the same work will be on view until August 28th as part of the biggest selection of African art in the world, exhibited at the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris. David Goldblatt, Diesploot

We also achieved a record of 42,000 GBP for Pascale Marthine Tayou's mixed-media wall work, "Cache-Sexe"(2014). This is also a new record for a Cameroonian Modern or Contemporary artist at an auction. This work was one of the six pieces sold to Sindika Dokolo, one of the biggest collectors of African art. Pascale Marthine Tayou, Cache-Sexe  

All above works generated healthy profits for fund investors, demonstrating how a carefully crafted strategy can produce win-win outcomes for all market participants. We are tremendously satisfied with the auction's results and look forward to our future collaborations. 

For the auction catalogue, click here.

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