Leading this sale is one of the most remarkable examples of figural abstraction from all of sub-Saharan Africa: a magnificent Eket Ogbom headcrest from Nigeria. One of only five such sculptures known, the Ogbom was previously in the personal collection of Jacques Kerchache, art advisor to former French president Jacques Chirac and the driving force behind the creation of the Musée du quai Branly in Paris.
Returning to Sotheby’s New York after 23 years, the famous Mambila female ancestor figure, Cameroon, formerly in the Harry A. Franklin Family Collection, caused a sensation when it was sold in our record-breaking 1990 auction. The sale will also feature several groups from important American collections, including selections from the collection of Warren M. Robbins, the pioneering founder of the Museum of African Art (which would become the National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, in Washington, D.C.) and property from the Balene McCormick Collection, Santa Fe.
The Pre-Columbian section will feature an important large Veracruz standing figure, not seen in New York since the ground-breaking exhibition in 1970, Before Cortes, Sculpture of Middle America, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Also of note in the sale is an Olmec greenstone seated figure from a private collection, a variety of Costa Rican stone works, and a group of West Mexican ceramic figures from a distinguished private collections.
Highlights from the May 16 sale of African, Oceanic and Pre-Columbian Art included an Eket Ogbom headdress from Nigeria, which realized an impressive $815,000, along with a statue of a mythical heroine (Telum) from Papua New Guinea, which realized over $755,000.