Thousands of artifacts looted from African towns over a century ago line European and British Museums and institutions. After decades of campaigns for the return of African pieces, such as the Benin bronzes, the homecoming of looted artworks finally began looking like a real possibility.
But in the middle of the global economic crisis sparked by the spread of the novel coronavirus, which has devastated economies, a new market for African artifacts and art has emerged.
Christie’s, the British auction house, announced a curated “Arts of Africa, Oceania and North America” sale in Paris which includes African art such as the newly discovered Akan terracotta head (Ghana), Benin Bronze, and an Urhobo figure (Nigeria). The artifacts from all around Africa including Nigeria, Ghana, Gabon, and the Democratic Republic of Congo are valued from €30,000 to €900,000.
The Christie’s auction is embroiled in controversy. Christie’s can only guarantee the origin of the Bronze head as far back as 1890-1949 as a part of the Frederick Wolff-Knize collection that was shown in Vienna and New York.
*The views of the above article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Africa Speaks 4 Africa or its editorial team.