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African figurative sculptures catch collectors' eyes at Bonhams New York sale
Exceptional Baule Male Standing Figure, Ivory Coast, height 20 1/2in (52cm). Wood. Sold for $47,500.

NEW YORK, NY.- Bonhams announced the results of its November 20 African, Oceanic & Pre-Columbian Art sale in New York, which has been confirmed as Bonhams most successful sale of its kind to date. The auction was held in Bonhams compelling new gallery space at 580 Madison Avenue. The room was packed with attendees, and global buyers flooded the phone lines while others vied online. The wide variety of interested participants and impressive sell-thru rate of the property attest to the growing interest in this unique market.

Although Bonhams is already established as one of the leaders in the New York art market, new clients accounted for more than 25 percent of the active bidders, doubtlessly drawn by the unparalleled pieces on offer. “Quality works of art, fresh to the market, and with excellent provenance, did very well at all price levels,” explained Bonhams Director of African, Oceanic & Pre-Colombian Art, Frederic Backlar. Notable successes were found across regional categories, as well.

The top three lots all hailed from the African section of the sale, illustrating the lingering fascination with the visually arresting figurative imagery common in traditional African art. A Rare Senufo Equestrian Figure from the Ivory Coast brought $61,500, which was closely followed by an exceptional Baule Male Standing Figure, also from the Ivory Coast, which sold for $47,500. In addition to the successes of works from the Ivory Coast, sculptures from the Congo did very well. A strikingly geometric Sikasingo/Buyu Male Figure from the Democratic Republic of the Congo easily surpassed its pre-sale estimate of $8,000-12,000, to sell after intense bidding for a remarkable $36,900.

Pre-Columbian gold items impressed bidders, partly reflecting an interest in gold across the market generally, but driven by the unique and high-quality items featured. A Sicán Gold Beaker from AD 950-1250, with a delightful aquatic motif, brought $24,600, roughly double its pre-sale estimate. A significantly older bracelet from the South Coast Nazca Region made an even bigger impact. Hailing from AD 500-800, the piece sold for $18,750, more than triple its pre-sale high estimate of $3,000-5,000.

Oceanic Art did extremely well overall, with 75% of the works sold, exceeding the session’s total pre-sale estimated value. Finely-detailed Maori handclubs from New Zealand proved especially popular. One intricate example carved by Patoromu Tamatea, ca. 1870-1880, soared past its pre-sale estimate of $4,000-6,000, eventually bringing $27,500 after lengthy bidding.

Bonhams next sale of African, Oceanic & Pre-Columbian Art will take place in New York in early May of 2013.

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