Writing Art History Since 2002

First Title

Breaking 10 Artist Records and Setting Three Artist Benchmarks 56 Artists from 18 Countries across Africa Represented

London, 16 October 2018 – Sotheby’s third sale of Modern & Contemporary African Art in London realised £2,274,625 / $3,000,230(pre-sale estimate: £1.8-2.6 million), breaking 10 auction records in this category and setting three benchmarks for artists making their first appearance at auction.

The top lot of the sale was El Anatsui‘s Tagomizor, a hanging sculptural work made of aluminium bottle caps and copper wire from of the artist’s Danudo Series, which sold for £670,000 / $883,730 (est. £550,000-750,000).


Sotheby's gallery technicians with El Anatsui's TagomizorSotheby’s gallery technicians with El Anatsui’s Tagomizor.


The Warrior, a painting by Senegalese artist Papa Ibra Tall, which was purchased by jazz legend Duke Ellington in Dakar in 1966 at the World Festival of Negro Arts, was hotly contested by multiple bidders who drove the final sale price to £118,750 / $156,631, almost fifteen times its pre-sale estimate (£8,000-12,000) and setting an auction record for the artist.

Hannah O’Leary, Sotheby’s Head of Modern and Contemporary African Art, said: “We saw international interest from both private collectors and institutions for good quality works from across the continent. There was an immense amount of pre-sale enthusiasm for Senegalese artist Papa Ibra Tall’s ‘The Warrior’, once owned by jazz legend Duke Ellington, and on the day of the auction this was reflected in the saleroom with an intense bidding battle and an extraordinary price. Overall, it was particularly satisfying to such a broad range of artists achieving top prices.”

Making a rare appearance at auction, A South African Colouring Book by Gavin Jantjes made £77,500 / $102,222 (est. £40,000-60,000). Comprising twelve silkscreen prints, this radical work dared to address the issues of apartheid through a direct criticism of the status quo and was banned in South Africa. Numbered 20 of an edition of 20, with others held in several institutional collections including the Victoria and Albert Museum (London), Tate Gallery (London), the Baltimore Museum of Art (Maryland) and the South African National Gallery (Cape Town), this copy of the artist’s best known work established an auction record for Jantjes.

Two works by Cameroonian artist Pascale Marthine Tayou, on offer from the Guy & Myriam Ullens Foundation, broke Tayou’s previous auction record twice over, when Charcoal U and Lampedusa sold for £75,000 /$98,925 and £68,750 / $90,681 respectively.

A strong selection of works by Ethiopian artists performed well, with all but one of the seven lots finding buyers. The group was led by Alexander Skunder Boghossian‘s Crossroads, which fetched £50,000 / $65,950, an auction record for the artist.


  • Third sale dedicated to Modern & Contemporary African Art at Sotheby’s
  • 10 auction records broken
  • Sale included works by 56 artists from 18 countries across Africa
  • Artists from the following countries were represented:  Algeria, Morocco (North Africa), Benin, Ghana, Ivory Coast , Mali, Nigeria, Senegal (West Africa), Ethiopia, Sudan, Uganda (East Africa), Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Republic of Congo (Central Africa), Mozambique, South Africa, Zimbabwe (Southern Africa)
  • 99 lots total in the sale
  • Buyers from more than 20 different countries, including Africa, Asia and the Middle East
  • 18 out of 70 lots were bought by African collectors (26% of the lots sold)


New auction records were set for 10 artists:

Pascale Marthine Tayou (lots 21 & 22, Cameroonian), breaking the artist’s previous auction record set by Sotheby’s in May 2017

Papa Ibra Tall (lot 33, Senegalese)

Ibou Diouf (lot 34, Senegalese)

Owusu-Ankomah (lot 37, Ghanaian), breaking the artist’s previous auction record set at Sotheby’s in March 2018

Uzo Egonu (lot 52, Nigerian), breaking the artist’s previous auction record set by Sotheby’s in May 2017

Afewerk Tekle (lot 68, Ethiopian)

Alexander Skunder Boghossian (lot 69, Ethiopian)

Gavin Jantjes (lot 79, South African), breaking the artist’s previous auction record set by Sotheby’s in March 2018

Kudzanai Chiurai (lot 97, Zimbabwean)

Richard Mudariki (lot 99, Zimbabwean)

First appearances at auction for:

Fréderic Trigo Piula (lots 13 & 14, Congolese), Ruby Onyinyechi Amanze (lot 46, Nigerian), Bertina Lopes (lot 76, Mozambican).


For more information:

Matthew Floris

Sotheby’s Press Office


Related Posts

Scroll to Top