Bonhams aucton of African, Oceanic and Pre-Columbian Art features rare discoveries unseen for decades

NEW YORK— for the third consecutive year, Bonhams is pleased to announce the upcoming African, Oceanic & Pre-Colombian Art auction for the autumn season. As the only international auction house offering two tribal arts sales per year in New York, Bonhams has the undisputed edge in the market by offering quality works of art at all price levels. The pieces on offer are sure to please both seasoned and emerging collectors, with their striking forms, diversity of origin and carefully established provenance. Buying from Bonhams gives enthusiasts at all stages the confidence they need when navigating this highly-specialized field. As Bonhams Specialist and Department Head of African, Oceanic & Pre-Colombian Art Fredric Backlar explains, "Collectors rely on Bonhams expertise and experience when looking for authentic, indigenous work. We painstakingly seek and select the highest quality artworks with verifiable provenance for connoisseurs at all levels."

Mr. Backlar, who has more than 25 years of professional and academic experience with Tribal Arts, considers an important and rare Maya codex-style vase on offer to be especially notable. The late classic piece, circa AD 650-950, exemplifies codex ceramic work with its delicately painted scenes of the Mayan "otherworld," or land of the gods. The pre-sale estimate of $40,000-$60,000 reflects the true rarity of the item. Only four codices survive today, as most were burned in an auto-de-fé by the Spanish Bishop Diego de Landa in the 16th century. The Pre-Columbian section also features a late pre-classic Mezcala figure from circa 300-100 BC, which is bound to attract attention as the oldest piece in the sale. This stone figure, a boldly geometric abstraction of the human body, perfectly illustrates tribal art's influence on artists of the 20th century, and is estimated to sell for $2,000-$3,000.

The sale's top lot is a spectacular and rare wooden Senufo equestrian figure from the Ivory Coast, valued between $80,000-$120,000. But it is not only the high-value African art pieces that will entice bidders. Also on offer are close to 100 lots from the personal collection of Marc and Denyse Ginzberg. The Ginzberg's seminal 2000 book African Forms is considered a must-read for any serious African Art collector, and the pieces on offer reflect his impressive knowledge of the subject. Bonhams is honoured to offer the superb examples of African weapons, adornments, containers, furniture, instruments and devotional items.

Oceanic arts are also well represented. The sale's most historic lot is a fowl feather cape that once belonged to the hanai daughter of the Hawaiian Island's Queen Lili'uokalani, Lydia Kaonohiponiponiokalani Aholo. Also known as Tutu, Ms. Aholo was adopted by the queen after her own parents passed away. Estimated at $12,000-$15,000, the feather cape beautifully exemplifies native Hawaiian craftsmanship and features a dazzling use of colour and breathtaking technical skill.

African, Oceanic and Pre-Colombian Art will open for preview in New York, November 17. To view the full auction, please visit


Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to

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