Contemporary African Art is the most exciting and hottest area of the art market right now. Interest from galleries, museums and collectors increases year on year, sending a strong signal that this is the market to invest in. All the major auction houses have set up dedicated African Art Departments which see record-breaking sales with every auction. But it can be difficult to know how to start a collection or find the right pieces to add to an existing one. Enter The African Art Series with its inaugural pop-up art investment event “Luminosity”, taking place at the prestigious Bvlgari Hotel London from 7th October to 9th October.
The pop-up investment begins at 6 pm on Thursday 7th October where invited guests will join the Patron of the series, Managing Director and Head of Sub Saharan Africa at Bank of America, Yvonne Fasinro, for a drinks reception. In the contemporary surroundings of a spacious Bvlgari suite, the invitees will enjoy networking with HNWI and prominent figures from the worlds of luxury, publishing, business, fashion, film, sport, music and art.
The reception presents a unique environment for the guests to be informed and guided by the experts on hand about this rapidly growing sector of the art world. The event curator, Lisa Anderson, has carefully handpicked inspirational and incandescent artworks that unapologetically luxuriate in the ‘Luminosity’ of African art. The chosen pieces, from established names and rising stars alike, celebrate the creative depth and technical flair of the artists, providing a fascinating and exciting investment opportunity.
The Director of Sotheby’s African Art Department, Hannah O’Leary, will share her view of the market and its unprecedented growth in recent years. Discussing how this meteoric rise in global attention has led to increasing international acclaim and skyrocketing prices; which has seen Sotheby’’s Modern and Contemporary African Art sales achieve over 90 world records in just 5 years, attracting collectors from more than 60 different countries across six continents. Its most recent sale in March exceeded the lower end of its pre-sale estimate by over 40% to net £2.7 million. Over a third of the buyers were transacting with Sotheby’s for the first time; such is the interest in this area.
Among the artists on display at the pop-up are Nigerian, Ben Enwonwu, arguably the most influential African artist of the twentieth century and acclaimed Ghanian sculptor, El Anatsui. Works from both these artists achieve astounding sums at auction. In 2018, Enwonwu’s long thought missing masterpiece “Tutu” was auctioned for £1.2m, wildly exceeding its pre-sale estimate of £300,000. And two years later, his portrait “Christine” sold for £1.1m, more than seven times its valuation. At Sotheby’s most recent sale, his bronze sculpture “Atlas” set a new world record for a sculpture by the artist in its first appearance at auction selling for £378,000.
El Anatsui’s work has been offered at auction multiple times and regularly reaches incredible prices. Amongst his pieces, “Paths to the Okro Farm” sold at Sotheby’s in 2014 for $1.4m and in 2020, “Vumedi” sold for $1m. In May of this year, the 2008 work “New Layout” sold in New York for $1.9m, a record for the artist.
And it’s not just the established artists whose works command incredible prices. In his auction debut, a painting by emerging Ghanaian artist Amoako Boafo sold in London in February 2020 for £675,000, more than 10 times its high estimate.
O’Leary offered advice for collectors and would-be collectors alike, “As with any art, I would always advise buyers to check authenticity and provenance, and above all, to buy what you love.”
Following this informative talk, the high-profile guests will then enjoy a private viewing of the exhibition and its dazzling artwork in the magnificent Bvlgari Ballroom. The event also offers guests the opportunity to support two African foundations, Adara and WARIF; two brilliant charities founded to support women and youth, art and culture from Africa while investing in a piece of art.
The pop-up continues on Friday 8th and Saturday 9th October, from 12 pm to 9 pm, when it opens its doors to all. Allowing the public to appreciate, and invest in, the diversity and creativity of the paintings, sculptures, ceramics, prints and photography from across the African continent and its diaspora.
The African Art Series is the creation of Cas Ojo, MD of The Luxury Network Nigeria; a leading Business Club for luxury brands in Nigeria. “I am excited for the launch of The African Art Series,” Ojo said. “Luminosity presents an attractive proposition for art lovers; the perfect way to start a contemporary African Art Collection or to add to one! To see these incredible pieces of art from established artists and rising stars together in a beautifully curated show, and to benefit from the invaluable insight of Sotheby’s Hannah O’Leary and the event curator, Lisa Anderson, in the magnificent setting of Bvlgari Hotel London is a unique opportunity.”