With 10 lots going for hammer prices of €1m-plus, the sale posted a number of new financial benchmarks for the collecting field including a record for a tribal art collection and a new high for Oceanic art.
Périnet, a Parisian specialist in decorative arts, bought his first pieces of African and Oceanic art in the 1960s, his eye to then-undervalued works informed by his appreciation for Art Nouveau and Art Deco.
Prior to his death in 2020, he had entrusted the sale of a closely guarded collection to four colleagues: dealers Alain de Monbr ison, Lance Entwistle, Bernard Dulon and François de Ricqlès, the former Christie’s specialist and consultant who was auctioneer for the day.
Its masterworks included a rare white painted tapuanu mask from the Mortlock Islands with a 19th century provenance to Johan Kubary (1846-96), a German who moved to Micronesia in 1869 to manage several plantations.
It was purchased during his trip to the islands and its tiny population of under 8000 inhabitants in 1877 and sent to the Godeffroy Museum Hamburg that later sold its collections. Périnet had bought it through de Monbrison and Entwistle in 1987.
Estimated here at €500,000-700,000, it sold for a hammer price of €7.8m (£7.1m), or €9.1m including premium, a record for any Oceanic work of art.
It was one of a number of prices that suggest that, for perhaps the first time in the market, the best ethnographic art is now priced in a similar sphere to the Western art it inspired.
Of the African works, a 14in (35cm) Fang ebony head (pictured top), an influential work in the Fauvist movement once owned by artist Maurice de Vlaminck, sold for €6.5m (£5.91m) – a new world auction record for Gabonese art.
Meanwhile, a 20in (51cm) Luba ‘beast man’ mask by a master carver from the Democratic Republic of Congo sold for €6.1m (£5.55m).
Périnet had bought them in 1983 (from de Monbrison) and 2006 (Lance Entwistle) respectively.
The Musée du Quai Branly- Jacques Chirac preempted a Sawos Malu openwork board acquired early in the 20th century on the Sepik river in Papua New Guinea for €320,000 (£291,000).