Sotheby's May 15th auction of African, Oceanic & Pre-Columbian Art in New York brought an impressive total of $12,144,375 USD. The sale was led by several extraordinary works, the quality and rarity of which are seen once in a generation at auction: The Luba Male Ancestor Statue by the Master of Warua which sold for $3,610,00 USD; a Monumental head of a Marada Malagan from Tabar Island, which sold for $1,054,000 USD; and an Edo Terracotta Head from Benin Kingdom which sold for $1,930,000 USD. These artworks were intensely pursued by an expanding group of increasingly sophisticated and well-informed collectors, and each set a world record price for its category. This result affirmed Sotheby’s strong leadership in this growing market, and solidified the status of this field as a major collecting category.
Following a record-breaking year in 2014, Sotheby’s will present a variety of top-quality examples of African, Oceanic, and Pre-Columbian Art at our May 15 auction in New York. The sale will be led by a Congolese masterpiece of extraordinary power and refinement, the Luba Male Ancestor Statue by the Master of Warua. Other highlights will include the iconic Fang Ngil Mask previously in the collection of Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, of the type which inspired Modigliani and one of the last examples to remain in private hands; the famous Jernander Lwena Mask, without doubt the best of its type; a highly cubistic Congolese Mask from the Kasai Region, which was included in the landmark exhibition “Primitivism” in 20th Century Art, held at the Museum of Modern Art in 1984; and a selection of rare Oceanic artworks led by a Monumental Head from a Marada Malagan, from the island of Tabar, one of only five such heads known. In Pre-Columbian art, highlights include an important group of ancient gold from Central and South America originally from John Wise, with a number of pieces exhibited in American museums as well as the 1964 New York World’s Fair. The sale also includes a fine Maya Figure of a Ruler, ca. AD 550-950, formerly in the Jay C. Leff Collection; an important large Chontal stone figure, ca. 300-100 BC, and a strong group of West Mexican ceramic figures from an American private collection.