As Photography Gains a Foothold on the Nigerian Market

As Photography Gains a Foothold on the Nigerian Market

Arguably, the first time photography was offered for sale at an auction in Nigeria was at the Arthouse Contemporary sale in Lagos on May 9, 2011, which realized a sum of N605,000 ($3,781.25) but paled in comparison to the presale estimate of N2,600,000 –N3,400,000 ($16,250-21,250). This figure was realized from the sale of the single work, Argungun by George Osodi valued at N500,000-N700,000 ($3,125-4,375).

Yetunde Ayeni-Babaeko, The Pretty Stranger Who Killed the King I, 2011. Sold for N220,000 ($1,347) at Arthouse Contemporary, May 7, 2012

Yetunde Ayeni-Babaeko, The Pretty Stranger Who Killed the King I, 2011. Sold for N220,000 ($1,347) at Arthouse Contemporary, May 7, 2012

The November 21 sale the same year also featured photography, but fared no better with N396,000 ($2,475) achieved from photography sales, far lower than the presale estimate of N1,400,000-N1,900,000 ($8,750-11,875). Again, a single work, Beating Room by Adolphus Opara was sold from 3 works offered. Both auctions clearly underline buyers’ reluctance to fully accept photography as a collectible medium.

The May 2012 sale is perhaps Arthouse’s most successful inclusion of photography in an auction till date. Here, the auction achieved a 100% success sales rate with all the 6 works offered realizing a sum of N3,740,000 ($23,375). The top-selling photograph on the evening, Adekola Adeleke’s The Charge, sold for N2,200,000 ($13,750), establishing a record for the artist. Yetunde Babaeko also set a record for her work with The Pretty Stranger Who Killed the King I selling for N220,000 ($1,375), above a pre-sale estimate of N150,000-N180,000 ($937 -1,125).

The November 2012 auction by Arthouse Contemporary recorded a dip in sales from photography as only N2,123,000 ($13,268.75) was achieved, with a 50% success rate as only 4 of the 8 works offered sold. The highest sold photograph was George Osodi’s Eyo at N1,320,00 ($8,250) which set a personal best.

Arthouse Contemporary auction of May 13, 2013 included 3 contemporary photographs, which recorded a 100% sale and
collectively achieved N3,366,000 ($21,037.50, including premium) against a pre-sale estimate of N2,280,000-2,920,000 ($1,425-1,8250).

With earlier successes recorded this year for photography, Arthouse’s forthcoming auction sales of November 18, 2013 will hopefully boost confidence in collectors to acquire works of photography.

 


Oliver Enwonwu is founder and Editor-in-Chief of Omenka magazine, Director, Omenka Gallery and Chief Executive, Revilo. He holds a first degree in Biochemistry, advanced diploma in Exploration Geophysics (distinction), Post Graduate Diplomas in Applied Geophysics and Visual Art (distinction) and a Masters in Art History, all from the University of Lagos. He is the founder, Executive Director, and trustee of The Ben Enwonwu Foundation. He also sits on the board of several organizations including the National Gallery of Art, Nigeria and the Reproduction Rights Society of Nigeria. Enwonwu is also president of both the Society of Nigerian Artists and the Alliance of Nigerian Art Galleries.

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