In museums and galleries, and on the art market, African art has become sought-after. But international recognition didn’t happen overnight, as many might assume. Instead, it came through the concerted efforts of African art experts like Bonhams specialist Helene Love-Allotey.
In sales at that auction house, Love-Allotey has been quietly rewriting the rules of the burgeoning African art market. In 2020, Love-Allotey broke away from the tradition of putting the most expensive lot on the cover of sale catalogues, placing Zanele Muholi’s Sasa, Bleecker, New York, 2016 from their “Somnyama Ngonyama” series on the front. She was also a part of the team involved in the high-profile sale of Ben Enwonwu’s 1974 painting Tutu, which was long presumed to be lost. It wound up selling for $1.6 million, more than $1 million more than it was estimated to go for.