WITH A PLANNED AUCTION OF IGBO FIGURES, CHRISTIE’S COURTS CONTROVERSY – THISDAY Newspapers
A planned auction of two sacred Igbo objects alongside others at the Paris salesroom of the British auction house Christie’s sets it on a collision course with the Nigerian authorities and the country’s intelligentsia in the Diaspora. Okechukwu Uwaezuoke reports
They are simply identified as “Paire de Statues Igbo…” (A Couple of Igbo Figures) and are positioned as Lot 47 in the auction’s catalogue. These figures bear scarification markings – known as “ichi” and “mbubu” – on the forehead, chest and stomach and their wealth, high status and titles are further italicised by their anklets and bracelets. They stand 161 cm and 166 cm tall with their palms turned up as though in supplication.
With 58 other lots, they will be auctioned at the Christie’s curated Arts of Africa, Oceania and North America sale in Paris with a pre-sale estimated value of €250,000-350,000 ($283,000 – 396, 000). This auction will hold on Monday, June 29 from 3 pm at the British auction house’s Paris salesroom at 9 Avenue Matignon.
Meanwhile, their unscrupulous provenance is already stirring a storm of controversy. Nigerian-born Chika Okeke-Agulu, an art historian and professor at Princeton University in the