african2014_1aWorld Record for African Art
Senufo Female Statue (deble), Ivory Coast or Burkina Faso
Sold for 12,037,000 USD

2014 was an outstanding year for African and Oceanic Art at Sotheby’s, with an astounding 84.7 million dollars achieved worldwide. An extraordinary series of auctions in New York and Paris affirmed the arrival of this field in its new position as a major collecting area, with Sotheby’s international team at the helm as the unrivaled market leaders worldwide.  Sotheby’s sold every one of the top ten prices of 2014 and commanded an 87% share of the market versus our nearest competitor.

The year began with the culmination of the two-part sale of The Collection of Allan Stone in New York on May 16, which brought a combined total of $16.6 million dollars. New world records were set in over 20 categories.  At the pinnacle of this collection was the Songye “Four-Horn” Power Figure, which sold to the Dallas Museum of Art for a record price of $2.2 million dollars.  The various owners auction which followed the second part of the Stone auction comfortably exceeded its high estimate and brought over $6 million dollars, including the Ngbandi Statue from the collection of Jan Krugier, formerly in the collection of Pablo Picasso.

On June 18 in Paris Sotheby’s held another record-breaking sale of African and Oceanic Art, led by the famous Fang Mabea Statue previously in the collection of Félix Fénéon, which set a new world record for a Fang figure, selling for €4.4 million euros ($5.9 million dollars).

african2014_2aWorld Record for a Fang Figure
Fang Mabea Statue previously in the collection of Félix Fénéon, Gabon
Sold for €4,353,500 EUR ($5,914,099 USD)

The momentum at Sotheby’s Paris continued in September with the sale of Trésors: Collection Frum, which fetched a total of €7.5 million euros ($9.7 million dollars) setting a new world record for an auction of Oceanic Art with 100% of lots sold – a fabled “white glove” sale.  Individual record-breaking prices included a New Ireland Uli Figure which sold for €1.6 million euros ($2.1 million dollars) and a Maori Figure which sold for €1.4 million euros ($1.9 million dollars).

Back in New York in November, Sotheby’s made history again with the highlight of the year, In Pursuit of Beauty: The Myron Kunin Collection of African Art. Leading the auction was one of the most iconic and widely-published works of African Art, The Senufo Female Statue (Deble) by The Master of Sikasso previously in the collections of Werner Muensterberger and William Rubin.  This universal masterpiece shattered the previous top price for African Art by over $5 million, selling for a new all-time world record price of $12 million dollars. Six lots made prices in excess of one million dollars, including the Ngbaka Figure previously in the collections of Georges de Miré and Chaim Gross, sold for $4.1 million; the Fang-Betsi Reliquary Head, sold for $3.6 million; and the Yombe Maternity previously in the collection of Robert Rubin, sold for $3.5 millon. The sale totaled $41.6 million – a record for an African Art auction in the United States and in terms of average lot value the most successful African art auction of all time.

african2014_4aWorld Record for a Songye Figure
Songye Janus-Headed Power Statue of the name ‘Mulange’, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Sold for $2,573,000 USD
african2014_3aWorld Record for an Ubangi Sculpture
Ngbaka Figure previously in the collections of Georges de Miré and Chaim Gross, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Sold for $4,085,000 USD

The December auctions in Paris provided a fitting coda to this historic year, with the Alexis Bonew Collection of Arts from the Congo selling for a total of €6.2 million euros ($7.6 million dollars) and the various owners auction totalling €5.8 million euros ($7.3 million dollars).  The Bonew Lega Mask fetched the second-highest price ever paid at auction for an African mask, selling for €3.6 million euros ($4.4 million dollars), and the newly-discovered Easter Island Rapa broke the record for Easter Island art selling for €1.9 million euros ($2.3 million dollars).

african2014_5aWorld Record for Easter Island Art
Rapa, Easter Island
Sold for €1,889,500 EUR (2,341,506 USD)

african2014_8Auction Record for a Mask in 2014
Lega Muminia Mask from the Collection of Alexis Bonew, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Sold for €3,569,500 EUR ($4,423,396 USD)

Sotheby’s worldwide total of $84.7 million dollars far exceeds the previous record for the highest annual total for any auction house in this category in history.  We look forward to carrying this momentum into 2015, and are now accepting consignments for the May 15 auction in New York, and the June 24 auction in Paris.

african2014_6aWorld Record for an auction of Oceanic Art
Trésors: Collection Frum
Paris, September 16, 2014
Total: €7,530,838 EUR ($9,742,570 USD)
african2014_7aWorld Record for an auction of African Art in America
In Pursuit of Beauty: The Myron Kunin Collection of African Art
New York, November 11, 2014
Total: $41,617,500 USD