A Multi-award Winning New York Collection

On 22 March 2018, by Anne Doridou-Heim
Democratic Republic of Congo, statue of a Bembe ancestor, wood with a thick, lacquered brown patina, pigments and leaves, height: 47 cm.
Result: €683,500

On 20 and 21 March, Binoche & Giquello held these two auctions, which were eagerly awaited by all the specialists because the programme was so dense and thick and the provenances prestigious. Sales totalled €5,672,621: €2,423,602 for pre-Columbian art and €3,249,019 for African and Oceanic art, with strong results for the two auctions’ flagship pieces.

The pre-Columbian world
This was the second part of the dispersal of a New York collection; the first part took place on 31 March 2017. A grey-green andesite anthropomorphic figure from the Mezcala culture (300-100 BC) received the highest bid at €264,500. Next to it stood a Venus Callipyge of the Chupicuaro culture (400-100 BC). Her round curves and good-natured joviality contrasted with the cruelty associated with stories about sacrifice. Exhibited for eight years on permanent loan to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art (September 2008 to February 2015), 31.8 cm high and not quite as wide at just 20.6 cm, it fetched €198,900. A more original object, a codex vase the Maya in Mexico or Guatemala used to drink chocolate, in a ritual context, sold for €179,900.

The Africa of roads
This sculpture of a female Bembe ancestor (looks can be deceiving) received the highest bid at €683,500 (see photo). Along with many others, these imposing anthropomorphic figures were strewn along African roadsides. The Bembe thought that the ancestors’ "shadows liked to take refuge in these simulacra", giving them political, commemorative, magical and therapeutic powers. The auction included documented origins, old pieces and prestigious provenances, a first-rate threesome that aroused collectors’ interest. 

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