These are the 5 most expensive auctioned artworks by Nigerians — the highest sold for $3 million

Njideka Akunyili Crosby is the most expensive Nigerian artist (Photograph by Stefan Ruiz)

We take a look at the highest-paid artists in the country.

In May 2018, Njideka Akunyili Crosby’s Bush Babes sold for $3.3 million at Sotheby’s New York.

This purchase made her the most expensive Nigerian artist, a position previously held by Ben Enwonwu, whose Tutu went for $1.6 million.

Business Insider Sub Saharan Africa has compiled a list of the highest-selling artists in the country with information supplied by Sotheby’s from Artnet, an art market website.

Here are the five most expensive artworks by Nigerians: 

  • $3,375,000

Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Bush Babes

Sotheby’s NY May 2018

The most expensive Nigerian artwork at the moment is a 2017 botanical piece named ‘Bush Babies.’

It was initially valued at $600,000-800,000 by Sotheby’s auction house, whose headquarters are based in New York. The sale immediately led to a spike in the value of her paintings. 

Reports say that at least 20 public museums are on a waiting list for her works which she has not even painted yet.

  • $1,666,781

Ben Enwonwu, Tutu

Bonhams LDN February 2018

Enwonwu’s 1974 portrait of a princess was lost for decades before it was discovered in a flat in London.

Nigerian novelist Ben Okri described the find as the “the most significant discovery in contemporary African art in over 50 years. It is the only authentic Tutu, the equivalent of some rare archaeological find. It is a cause for celebration, a potentially transforming moment in the world of art.”

  • $597,336

Toyin Ojih Odutola, Compound Leaf

Sotheby’s LDN June 2019

Odutola recently became the third highest-paid Nigerian artist of all time after her drawing ‘Compound Leaf’ sold at the Sotheby’s for $597,336 (£471,000).

  • $328,819

Yinka Shonibare, Girl Balancing Knowledge

Christie’s LDN March 2018

Shonibare started making his “Balancing Knowledge” sculptures a few years ago. His work is shown in major museums and public spaces throughout the world.

  • $225,075

Demas Nwoko, Children on Cycles

Bonhams NY May 2019

Nwoko’s circa 1961 painting sold for $225,075, which set a new world auction record for him.

Produced during his last year at the former College of Arts, Science and Technology, Zaria (now Ahmadu Bello University), it is described as being one of his finest paintings.


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