BEVERLY HILLS, March 01, (THEWILL) – Ben Enwonwu’s paint of Ile-Ife princess, Adetutu Ademiluyi, known as Tutu, has fetched in a London auction £1, 205,000, four times more than expected.
In naira terms, it was sold for N508, 358, 301, an African record.
The Nigerian masterpiece, initially declared missing was found in a “modest north London flat” recently.
The painting, ranked by arts collectors with Mona Lisa, was done by Nigeria’s renowned artist late Ben Enwonwu in 1974.
Bonhams, the auction company announced the record price for the paint, which measures 97 x 66.5cm and was signed by Enwonwu and dated 1974.
The identity of the buyer of the Lot 47 has not been disclosed yet.
There were other Enwonwu’s paints sold but none fetched anything near Tutu.
Enwonwu’s Fulani Girl fetched £13,125, Children of Onitsha got £11,250, A Driveway Ibadan fetched £12,150, while Dancers got £11,250, Itachafo Muo, another Enwonwu’s paint was sold for £18,750, A Tree Lined Village got £40,000, Negritude £100,000 and Female Form, £110,000
The other Nigerian artist whose work was also of great reckoning during the auction was Yusuf Adebayo Cameron Grillo. His ‘Evangelists: Cymbal, Triangle and Tambourine’ done in 1964, was sold for £56,250.
Bonhams says on its website that Ben Enwonwu’s portraits of Tutu has achieved a high level of celebrity status because the paintings were some of the most enigmatic works produced by a Nigerian artist in the 20th century.
NAN reports that Enwonwu, who died in 1994, at the age of 77, was appointed the first professor of Fine Art at the University of Ife In 1971.