‘African Mona Lisa’ Sells for $1.6 Million at London Auction

A painting known as the African Mona Lisa missing for more than two decades has broken sales records. According to CNN, Tutu as the painting is called sold at a London auction for more than $1.6 million. It was apart of Bonhams’ “Africa Now” sale. Sales projections for the piece were set at $275,000 to $413,000.

Bonhams, a privately owned British auction house, sold the painting as apart of its “Africa Now” sale.

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Last year the painting was found in a family home in London by Giles Peppiatt, Director of African art at the auction house. “I felt a little like Howard Carter peering into Tutankhamen’s tomb. When Carter was asked by Lord Carnarvon ‘What can you see?’, Carter replied ‘Wonderful things… Wonderful things.’ And so it was for me on that dark December night.”

According to Bonhams, the artwork was crafted by Nigerian painter Ben Enwonu in 1974 after one of the country’s civil wars. The subject of the work is Ife princess Adetutu (“Tutu”) Ademiluyi. Enwonwu is said to have painted three pictures of Adetutu after seeing her in the Nigerian countryside. The paintings became renowned for their beauty and their quick disappearance. As of today, the other two images are still missing.

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