(“Galloping Inflation” by Ghanian artis Kofi Agorsor.)
Contemporary African art is now the hottest new investment commodity, and wealthy Africans are leading the charge.
The ever-growing African art boom mostly centers around Nigeria, due to several factors, including the country’s large population and its growing economy, as a result of oil production. But demand has spread across the continent. While most art sales take place between Nigeria and South Africa, auction houses are also popping up in Kenya, and Uganda, among other African nations.
Over the past 10 years, collectors, investors, and galleries have seen prices skyrocket. According to CNN, the British auction house Bonhams has seen a five-fold increase in the value since the company started specializing in African art in 2007.
Prince Yemisi Shyllon, who is considered Nigeria’s largest art collector, with an over 7,000-piece collection tells CNN that, until recently, Contemporary African art wasn’t considered that valuable.
“When I started collecting art as an undergraduate at university in the mid 1970s, it had virtually no value,” Shyllon says.
“You could buy a piece of good art for 20,000 Naira [about $100 at current conversion rates]. Today it would sell for millions.”
“I’ve studied the movement of the prices of artwork sold in auctions in Nigeria since 1999,” he continues. “And I can tell you how much the artworks have grown over time, of different artists — if we draw a correlation analysis we come up with a positive graph about the growth, and therefore it can form a solid basis for investment.”
Shyllon also revealed plans to open a contemporary art museum in Lagos.
African are a huge presence in the global market as well, accounting for about half of all sales.