The late Ben Enwonwu is one of the all-time great Nigerian artists. Widely regarded as the father of “African modernism” he created some of the most iconic pieces of Nigerian art. Enwonwu’s artworks were seen as symbols of peace in a country plagued with ethnic violence and tension. He became popular for the nature of his technique and the messages that transcended through his paintings. One of his most notable pieces is his 1974 painting of Adetutu “Tutu” Ademiluyi, an Ife Princess. Art veteran, Ben Okri, labeled it the Nigerian Mona Lisa.
The painting disappeared and was discovered after four decades in a London flat. It was then sold for $1.6milliom. Recently, another family in London discovered the value of another Enwonwu painting via Google. The 1971 painting ‘Christine’ was found hanging in a house – the then owners discovered it was a portrait of their mother. Up till the point of its auction, the family had no idea it held such great value on the buyers market until they googled the signature on the painting and saw who it was painted by.
The painting was auctioned off at a price seven times more than the asking price and racked up a whopping £1.1 million pounds, more than the aforementioned $1.4 million price.