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Why the African Art Market is Uniquely Positioned to Weather COVID-19

Although it’s still early to assess the full impact of COVID-19 on the African contemporary art market, initial signs seem to indicate that it’s weathering the storm very well.  Benefitting from an international collector base, fluency with online display and sales, and a cohesive, collaborative, and inventive community of gallerists, African contemporary art continues to achieve impressive sales. Sotheby’s modern and contemporary African art sale opened online on March 27th, three days after lockdown came into force in the United Kingdom. Hannah O’Leary, director and head of modern and contemporary African art at Sotheby’s, was pleasantly surprised by positive sales. In the end, the auction brought in $2.9 million, setting new auction records for five artists: Cameroonian photographer Samuel Fosso, Mozambican painter Bertina Lopes, Zimbabwean painter Richard Mudariki, Tanzanian painter Elias Jengo, and Nigerian painter Shina Yussuff.