Lost for over twenty years, Nigeria’s most expensive painting, ‘Tutu’, was discovered in a flat and has sold for a record £1.2 million (about $1.68 million). The painting was recently auctioned at New Bond Street, London and The Wheatbaker Hotel, Lagos simultaneously, with Negritude, another Enwonwu’s pieces, sold for £100,000.
The painting is that of an Ile-Ife princess Adetutu Ademiluyi, granddaughter of the Ooni of Ife, which was done during one of Ben Enwonwu’s Ile-Ife countryside trips. With permission from the Ife royal family and with Tutu adorned in both regal and informal Yoruba attire, Enwonwu revealed the painting as his masterpiece as clearly seen by his signature and date on the painting.
. Tagged ‘“…the most significant discovery in contemporary African art in over fifty years.” by Booker Prize winning novelist Ben Okri, he described the painting as ‘Africa’s Mona Lisa’. The most expensive art piece in the world is Leonardo da Vinci’s 600-year-old, $450 million ‘Salvator Mundi’ painting which featured Jesus Christ holding a crystal orb. Ben Enwonwu, a Nigerian painter and sculptor, is considered the father of Nigerian modernism.