Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Going, Going, Gong!!! N9.2m

Congratulations to Baba Bruce Onobrakpeya as he is fondly called in Nigeria for the record price of N9.2m for a single work. After intense bidding that started at almost 40% discount from the lower estimate price, the bids rose steadily until about N6m at which stage things slowed to a point at which we anticipated a final sale, then suddenly the bid started apace until about N8m then inched up slowly until the final N9.2m This final price was received by the over 100 people in the room with loud, long applause. A truly landmark event. More than anything it signals - if the auction is sustained twice a year as planned - that slowly but surely the real market value of Modern and Contemporary Art in Nigeria will increase. We are still faraway from the alleged $640,000 price tag that South African painter the Late Gerard Sekoto raked for his work but Nigeria has the numbers and relative wealth to develop and sustain a healthy and vibrant local art market. This is the time for discerning collectors and those procrastinating to enter the market. Buying now is the equivalent of buying an undervalued share on the stockmarket. So maybe i will try my for something next time.

A few unofficial figures here based mainly on my calculations and observations from last night's event. Rough fiqures indicate a total sale of about N75m. Out of 97 lots (i missed the first 2) 61 lots were sold within or over the estimate price, 4 or 5 were unsold and 32 sold for under estimate price. Artist such as Rom Isichei saw one of his works double from N1.1 (high end) to N2.4m (lot 94) as did Abiodun Olaku from N800k to N1.6 (lot66) as did Gbenga Offo which tripled from N50k to N160k. The nice surprise of the evening was recent Yabatech graduate (2007) Richardson Ovbiebo whose 2 works doubled from N75k to N200k (lot59) and N110k to N240k (lot84).

Reflective of the art situation in the country, the auction was dominated by the works of male artists with only 3 female artists;Nike Okundaye, Ndidi Dike and Nkechi Nwosu-Igbo. On the whole they didn't fare too well. Nike Okundaye managed to sell 1 out of her 3 entries. One sold for N1.1m which was still under the lower estimate price of N1.3. The other two works did not sell. All of Ndidi Dike's 2 entries sold for almost 35% less than their lower estimate price, with one unsold and Nwosu-Igbo sold one at N280k (lot41) with one under estimate price for N110k (lot34) whilst the third remained unsold. The Oshogbo Artists did not fare too well either and Twins Seven Seven and Oloruntoba were quite disappointing with sales either 50% lower than estimate price or not selling at all. Two favourites Kolade Oshinowo and El Anatsui were absent this time around.

What would I have picked up if I could have. Obiora Udechekwu, Untitled 1989 (lot20) which went for N220k, Onobrakpeya's Millenium Mask Panel which went for N1.7 and my favourite were two very accomplished paintings by Duke Asidere, The Women, 2001 (lot33) which went for N1.2m and Untitled, 2003 (lot36) which went for N1.1m. All in all organisers, buyers and artists went home satisfied.

I am now off to the Glasgow International Visual Art Festival.


Blogger Lauren said...

Dear Bisi -- I'm a reader of your blog and a curator in New York. I'd like to get in touch with you -- Could you email me when you return from Glasgow? Many thanks, L

24 April 2008 at 14:01  

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