Fang statues have been much in the news in terms of stellar prices at auction this year. Our tribal art feature in ATG No 2344 mentioned examples sold at Christie’s Paris for €2.2m (£1.95m) in April and $2.9m (£2.15m) at Sotheby’s New York in May.
Sotheby’s (25/20/12.5% buyer’s premium) mixed-owner sale in Paris on June 13 was topped by another example: a 16¼in (41cm) high Fang head. A major attraction was that it was once owned by the famous collector/dealer Paul Guillaume and exhibited in 1933 at the Durand- Ruel Galleries in New York, as part of an exhibition titled André Derain Paintings and Early African Heads and Statues from the Gabon Pahouin Tribe. It sold for €2.15m (£1.9m).
The 103-lot auction, which raised a hammer total of €4.5m with 72% sold by lot, also featured a 14½in (37cm) high boldly carved wood mask from the Mambila peoples who inhabit an area bordered by north-west Cameroon and Nigeria.
It had come from a Spanish collection, passed down by descent, and was making its first appearance on the market. The mask realised €330,000 (£292,035), setting a new auction record for a Cameroon mask.
Art from what is present-day Nigeria was the strong suit at Christie’s (25/20/12.5% buyer’s premium) single-owner auction of the African art collection formed by the contemporary art-dealing couple Liliane and Michel Durand-Dessert on June 27.
In a sale where 69% of the lots changed hands, it accounted for half of the €5m hammer total.
Topping the bill here was a 2ft 5in (75cm) high ancestor figure of a drummer from the Mbembe peoples of south-east Nigeria which dates from the 17th-18th centuries. A much-exhibited piece, it sold for a hammer price of €1.6m (£1.4m).
At the Drouot auction centre tribal art from various countries made up a large slice of the collection of Michel and Catherine Andrault sold by De Baecque & Associés (29% buyer’s premium inc VAT) on June 25.
Best-seller was an Oceanic piece: a Matua mask from New Ireland. It had once formed part of the Ubersee Museum in Bremen, although because the museum’s records were largely destroyed during the Second World War, it is not known who collected it or when.
The elaborately carved 2ft 2in (64cm) high mask is made up of flying fish and bird symbols and it sold for €62,000 (£54,870).