Two Nigerian paintings have been sold for over N1 billion at auctions in the UK.
Both paintings were painted by Ben Enwonwu. A Nigerian novelist Ben Okri described the painting as the “African Mona Lisa”. It was auctioned off at $ 1.6 million, after it was discovered in a London flat.
The first painting was of an Ife Princess known as Adetutu Ademiluyi.
The second painting which was auctioned off for $1.4 million was named “Christine”. The painting was originally listed for $200,000.
The painting was newly discovered in Texas, it was painted by Ben Enwonwu in 1971, the painting had been in possession of a family in Texas.
Christine Elizabeth Davis, the subject of the painting, was an American hair stylist of West Indian descent. Christine traveled a lot in her life, working in Ghana before moving to Lagos with her British husband in 1969. There, they befriended Enwonwu and Christine’s husband commissioned the work as a gift for his wife in 1971 before they eventually moved back to the US a few years later.
The work was completed in under a week as Christine was able to hold her pose for as long as needed. Christine, who was in her mid-30s at the time, passed away in Texas thereafter. But the painting has remained in the family ever since.
It was not until recently that a family member discovered the painting and googled the name of the artist, only to discover that it was Ben Enwonwu, Africa’s best known artist.
It is still unknown if the descendants of Ben Enwonwu will get a share of the money or ether all the money from the auction will go straight to the owners of the paintings at the point of auction.