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Nigeria Art auctions rake in N224.8m in 2014

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Nigeria Art auctions rake in N224.8m in 2014

Kolade Oshinowo (b.1948) Maid 2009 oil on canvas 111.8 x 91.4 cm. (44 x 36 in.)

Kolade Oshinowo (b.1948) Maid 2009 oil on canvas 111.8 x 91.4 cm. (44 x 36 in.)


While the nation’s fortunes from its mono product have been shrinking as a result of dipping crude oil prices in the international market, art has been raking in rising revenue from auction sales.

For many years, the income from art sales had been on the increase, making a significant contribution to the nation’s economy, until lately, when a turn in the economy forced a decline.

For the first time in five years, sales in the Nigerian art market nosedived to N224. 8 million in 2014 against N286.6 million and N232 million in 2013 and 2012 respectively, recording a 27 percent drop when compared to the sales in 2013.

Market analysts say the drop was due to the upcoming elections and other socio-economic vagaries which have affected the finances of Nigerian art enthusiasts and patrons, limiting their purchasing power.

However, interest in Nigerian contemporary art, a segment of cultural preservation, which began some years ago, was sustained in 2014. “We are not surprised at the outcome in 2014,” says Nana Sonoiki of Art House Contemporary Ltd, one of the foremost art auction houses in Lagos. “There was high expectation, so we were not surprised at the result at all,” said Sonoiki.

At the annual auction organised by Terra Kulture in April 2014, as many as 64 lots were sold at N38.5 million, which is also a decrease in income haul, compared to 60 lots that were sold at N47. 4 million in 2013.

Meanwhile, Terra Kulture had a 23 percent increase in 2013 sales, compared to 2012 sales of N38.1 million.

While Terra Kulture experienced a drop in sales, Arthouse Contemporary Ltd, made total sales of N186. 29 million at its May and November 2014 auctions. At the 2013 edition of the Arthouse Contemporary Ltd auction, 82 percent of the lots were sold at N124.9 million, a 22.9 percent increase, compared to the 2012 figure of N101. 6 million.

The Nigerian auction market which is conducted three times a year, between April and December, usually witnesses two major houses putting lots up for sale.

At the April 2014 auction, Bruce Onobrakpeya’s ‘Dance in the Bush,’ sold at the hammer price of N3.65 million, while El Enatsui’s untitled piece and Kolade Oshinowo’s ‘At the Party,’ sold at N3.05million and N2.2million, as second and third highest sold works, respectively.

In the 2013 Arthouse Contemporary Ltd auction, Ben Enwonwu’s untitled work made of wood, was sold at the highest hammer price of N13.2 million as against the estimated price of between N13 million and N15 million.

In the second auction that come up in November by Arthouse again, Ben Enwonwu’s 1957 work, Fulani Girl, was sold at the hammer price of N17.05 million, against the estimated price of between N12 million and N15 million. Also, at the auction organised by Terra Kulture and Mydrim Gallery in April 2013, Kolade Oshinowo’s ‘Royal Procession’ was the highest work sold. It sold at N3.9 million.

Although the performance of the art market in 2014 was in-between, Sonoiki said the increase in sales witnessed was a result of stocking the kind of works that bidders want. “It is a matter of getting what people want. It is not so much about increase in the purchasing power in the country. A lot of collectors are beginning to define their collections and they are going for older works,” she said.

Kavita Chellaram, founder, ArtHouse Contemporary Limited, said that in 2015, the arts market would still largely remain unpredictable, even as collectors diversify their interest in modern contemporary art.

“The market will continue to determine the value of the work in the New Year. We will also do more to educate buyers on the value of African art, so that they won’t just collect artists they are familiar with. They need to realise that they have to go broad in their collection and begin to think world and not just Nigeria when collecting,” she explained.

Sonoiki confirmed that the market would largely remain uncertain in 2015. “The market is a bit scary in 2015. It is uncertain because of the elections. However, we are still hopeful. We are always very optimistic. Our collection for the May 2015 auction is a balance between the modern and contemporary works,” she observed.

Bolanle Austen-Peters, managing director, Terra Kulture, summed that, “Nigerian art is exploding and gaining more awareness and relevance all over the world. The international market will surely embrace contemporary Nigerian art as well as the masters.”


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