Sothebys, New York - African, Oceanic and Pre-Columbian Art - Sale No. N08638 - May 14, 2010
In this sale Sothebys offered 158 lots with 34 failing to sell yielding a buy in rate if almost 22%. Many were stunned at the sale in lot 11 of the 9 1/4" very well documented wood Taino snuff tube for $290,500, which had a high estimate of $120,000. Also somewhat surprising was the sale of the Guanacaste terracottas which sold for $80,500 (lot 22 with a high estimate $12,000) and $68,500 (lot 25 with a high estimate of $25,000). The spectacular seated Helene Kamer (now Leloup) Veracruz figure in lot 46 was estimated to sell for as much as $150,000 sold for $278,500. The standing 20" Chinesco figure in lot 54 doubled the high estimate of $50,000 selling for $104,500. In lot 78 Sothebys offered a very well documented Austral Islands necklace that sold for $302,500 barely exceeding the low estimate. The Hawaiian cape in lot 84 failed to sell with a low estimate of $300,000. The Friede Mundugumor (lot 89) met all expectations exceeding the high estimate of $1,500,000 and selling for $2,089,500. Followers of Lega material had to be shocked with the sale of the Lega four-headed figure (lot 137) for $2,210,500 that had a high estimate of $50,000. This certainly illustrates the unpredictable nature of this market and suggests to me that new strong buyers are entering the market that are not influenced by past public or private sales history.
Christies, Paris - African and Oceanic art - Sale No. 5599 - June 15, 2010
This Christies sale included 144 lots of which 75 failed to sell for a buy in rate of 52%. Generally, this material was medium level which served as a drag on the better objects which failed to sell. Lot 30 included an equestrian Baule that was estimated between 350,000 and 400,000 euros and said to be "probably" 19th century failed to sell. Consensus on this was that it was not in a league to be considered at this level. A very fine Pitt Rivers Benin architectural panel (lot 59) 128 1/4" in length sold for a very reasonable 34,600 euros which was below the low estimate. The Hooper nail fetish (lot 72) has lost the clay head covering seen in the Hooper book but was estimated to sell between 400,000 and 600,000 euros but failed to find a buyer. This seemed to me based on the collection history and size (33 1/4") to be a bargain. The very fine rare early Fiji tapa cloth (lot 105) is documented as 19th century or earlier and sold for 19,375 euros. A fine possibly 19th century Sepik River Mei mask (lot 126) sold for 34,600 euros.