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Auction Record for Yinka Shonibare MBE, 63 Artists from 14 Countries Represented. Half of the buyers new to Sotheby’s Participants from 29 countries.

Sotheby’s has been uniting collectors with world-class works of art since 1744. Sotheby’s became the first international auction house when it expanded from London to New York (1955), the first to conduct sales in Hong Kong (1973), India (1992) and France (2001), and the first international fine art auction house in China (2012).

Today, Sotheby’s presents auctions in 10 different salesrooms, including New York, London, Hong Kong and Paris, and Sotheby’s BidNow program allows visitors to view all auctions live online and place bids from anywhere in the world. Sotheby’s offers collectors the resources of Sotheby’s Financial Services, the world’s only full-service art financing company, as well as the collection advisory services of its subsidiary, Art Agency, Partners. Sotheby’s presents private sale opportunities in more than 70 categories, including S|2, the gallery arm of Sotheby’s Global Fine Art Division, and two retail businesses, Sotheby’s Diamonds and Sotheby’s Wine. Sotheby’s has a global network of 80 offices in 40 countries and is the oldest company listed on the New York Stock Exchange (BID)

Nicholas Hlobo, Untitled, 2006. Mixed media, rubber inner tube, ribbon on paper, 86 x 115.5 cm.

“The interest and enthusiasm from visitors to our preview exhibitions in London, New York, Paris and South Africa was reflected in the saleroom. With a record-breaking result for a Modern & Contemporary African art sale, and significant prices for artists from every corner of the continent, this is clearly a market that is poised for growth. It was particularly satisfying to see the crossover among participants, with first-time buyers bidding alongside established collectors of both Contemporary and African & Oceanic art.”

Hannah O’Leary, Sotheby’s Head of Modern and Contemporary African Art

London, 16 May 2017 – Sotheby’s inaugural sale of Modern & Contemporary African Art realised £2,794,750 / $3,611,376) in London, a new benchmark for an auction in this category.*

A new record was set for the British Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare, when Crash Willy, from 2009, sold for £224,750 ($290,422). In 2010, this work was the centrepiece 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’.

The most valuable two works in the sale were by the Ghanaian artist El Anatsui, whose tapestry of shimmering bottlecaps, Earth Developing More Roots from 2011, sold for £728,750 ($941,691), and the South African artist Irma Stern, whose still life of Sunflowers from 1942 made £416,750 ($538,524).

Irma Stern, Sunflowers, 1942. Oil on canvas. On view in galleries

Auction debut:

An exciting result was achieved for the South African artist Nicholas Hlobo, making his auction debut with a mixed media work which sold for £60,000, soaring over its pre-sale estimate of £8,000-12,000. The price achieved cements Hlobo’s place on the secondary market, now in tandem with his strong institutional presence following the exhibition of his work at the Centre Pompidou, the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Tate Modern, and the Boston ICA, among others.


  • 63 artists from 14 countries were represented in the sale: Algeria (North Africa), Benin, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Mali, Nigeria and Senegal (West Africa), Ethiopia and Uganda (East Africa), Cameroon and Democratic Republic of Congo (Central Africa), Angola, South Africa and Zimbabwe (Southern Africa).
  • 33% of artists included in the sale had been sold at auction fewer than 10 times before (20 artists).
  • Over 50% of artists included in the sale had been sold at auction fewer than 25 times before (34 artists).
  • Pre-sale estimate: £2.78-4 million / US$3.59-5.1 million.


  • Buyers from 21 different countries.
  • 28 out of 79 lots sold were bought by African collectors.
  • 48% of buyers new to Sotheby’s.
  • Geographical spread: participants from 29 countries.


    New records were set for 16 artists:
    Yinka Shonibare (lot 106, Nigerian British).
    António Ole (lots 87 & 103, Angola), superseding the artist record set at Sotheby’s London sale of David Bowie’s personal collection last year. This is also a new record for an Angolan Modern or Contemporary artist at auction. Pascale Marthine Tayou (lot 105, Cameroon), also a new record for a Cameroonian Modern or Contemporary artist at auction.
    Ouattara Watts (lot 33, Ivory Coast), also a new record for an Ivorian Modern or Contemporary artist at auction. Armand Boua (lot 98, Ivory Coast), his auction record has now been broken five times since October 2016.
    Abiodun Olaku (lot 9, Nigeria), four of the top five highest auction prices for the artist have been set in the past year. Also, Meschac Gaba (lot 36, Benin), Wosene Worke Kosrof (lot 52, Ethiopia), Uzo Egonu (lot 50, Nigeria), Nnenna Okore (lot 116, Nigeria), Mikhael Subotzky (lot 18, South Africa), Francisco Vidal (lot 88, Angola).

    First appearances at auction for:
    Eddy Ilunga Kamuanga (lot 5, Congo), Vincent Michéa (lots 37 & 38, Senegal), Leonce Raphael Agbodjelou (lot 54, Benin), Nicholas Hlobo (lot 60, South Africa).

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