A Nigerian painting that was said to be missing for
decades and was finally found in a London home has been sold for a record breaking amount.
The painting of Adetutu ‘Tutu’ Ademiluyi, by Ben Enwonwu, recently went under the hammer at Bonhams auction house with bidders in Lagos allowed to participate for the first time.
Tutu is part of a set of three paintings created by
Enwonwu around 1973, just a few years after Nigeria’s civil war ended. Enwonwu was reportedly walking in the Nigerian countryside when he met a beautiful young woman whom he just had to paint. The woman Tutu was a princess of Ife, in present day Osun state.
,According to qz.com, the painting sold for a record $1.68million (N600m) to a bidder on the telephone during Bonhams’ Africa Now auction on February 28,2018. Another Enwonwu painting, Negritude, sold for $140,000 (N55million) at the auction, their sales overshadowing the other works in the lot.
Award winning novelist Ben Okri described the painting as Africa’s Mona Lisa. “It amounts to the most significant discovery in contemporary African art in over fifty years. It is the only authentic Tutu, the equivalent of some rare archaeological find. It is a cause for celebration, a potentially transforming moment in the world of art,” he said.