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"African Mona Lisa" fetches $1.6m at London auction

A long-lost Nigerian masterpiece that had been missing for decades has sold for a record £1.2 million pounds ($1.68 million) at a London auction, more than four times the highest estimate.

The painting dubbed the “African Mona Lisa” by the late Nigerian artist Ben Enwonwu, smashed sales estimates on Wednesday.

“It is a new world record for the artist and I think for Nigerian art, at one million pounds it is, we are very happy that this modern Nigeria art has begun to get its actual value…" said Ben Onwonwu’s son, Oliver Enwonnwu.

“Tutu” the portrait of the Ife royal Princess Adetutu Ademiluyi, was missing for more than twenty years until it was discovered in a London flat last year.

The portrait of Adetutu Ademiluyi, who was a grand-daughter of a revered traditional ruler from the Yoruba ethnic group, holds special significance in Nigeria as a symbol of national reconciliation after the 1967-1970 Biafran War.

Enwonwu painted two other versions of the painting both of which are still missing.

Another Enwonwu painting, Negritude, sold for £100,000 (about $140,000) at the auction.


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