Sotheby’s African, Oceanic and Pre-Columbian Art sale tops $17m



2015-06-26 10:49:10

Sotheby’s African, Oceanic and Pre-Columbian Art sale tops $17m

15 May 2012, 09:45 GMT+01

Sotheby’s have released the superb results from their African, Oceanic and Pre-Columbian Art sale in New York, which beat its estimate to achieve $17.7 million.

The auction, which included the African Art collection of the notable psychoanalyst and art historian Werner Muensterberger, saw a number of auction records set – including top prices for Bamana Sculpture, Luluwa Sculpture, Sapi Sculpture, Buyu Sculpture and an Azande Figure.

“We are pleased with the total of $17.7 million which comfortably exceeded the high estimate,” said Heinrich Schweizer, Head of the African and Oceanic Art Department in New York. “Throughout the sales collectors competed strongly for masterpiece quality works. The top lots of the day – the Bamana Zigzag Figure and the Buyu Male Ancestor Figure - both set records when they achieved totals in the region of $2.5 million, well over the estimates, demonstrating the broad appeal for abstract African Art.”

The sale also saw numerous lots sold for prices far in excess of their estimates, and a high level of interest in the Muensterberger Collection. Werner Muensterberger was introduced to African art during his childhood in Germany, and arrived in the U.S to take up a teaching post with just $100 and an African mask which now resides at the Metropolitan Museum.

“Pieces from the Muensterberger Collection were also highly sought after with the iconic Luluwa Helmet Mask selling for $2.5 million,” said Schweizer. “Works previously in the Collection of Henri Matisse exemplified the pivotal role of African Art for European avant-garde artists at the beginning of the 20th century. The Bamana Female Figure sold for $782,500 and a Lega Mask, which was re-carved and re-painted presumably by Matisse himself, fetched $362,500 –many multiples of the $5/7,000 estimate.”

The Pre-Columbian Art category also proved popular for bidders, as it surpassed its high estimate of $1.9 million.

“As we have seen in recent years provenance and quality continue to drive prices,” said Stacy Goodman, Senior Pre-Columbian Art Consultant. “The beauty of Pre-Columbian Art continues to entice and excite new collectors with a number competing in the sale at the highest levels.”

Jean Fritts, Chairman of African and Oceanic Art at Sotheby’s, added: “We are delighted at the records achieved in the New York sale, the highest total ever for a various owner's auction in New York. We continue to see an expansion of the field with buyers competing for exceptional works at all levels of the market. Both new and established buyers pushed the prices to high levels, specifically for objects which are of exceptional quality.”

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