Issue 54, Spring 2018

Editor's Letter: Lucinda Bredin

"I always enjoyed the story in Errol Flynn's memoirs, My Wicked, Wicked Ways, about how he was down to his last $100, was about to scupper his boat and sack the staff, when his agent politely coughed and said, "Mr Flynn, what about the Van Gogh?"

That's movie stars for you. But even so... However, Flynn has been trumped, so to speak, by another legend: Alice Cooper. Alice was playing golf some years ago with that other hellraiser, Dennis Hopper, when Hopper mentioned that he had just sold a Warhol. It planted a seed in Alice's mind... just where was that red Electric Chair painting he had bought back in the hazy, crazy days of hanging out at Max's Kansas City in New York? The answer, of course, was that it was back in Phoenix, Arizona – in his parents' garage. On page 32, Adrian Dannatt interviews the man himself about his friendship with Andy Warhol and why, as the Godfather of Shock Rock, the painting was such an appropriate acquisition for him.

Another discovery which has come to light is an astonishing painting that has been hailed as Africa's Mona Lisa. This work, Tutu by the Nigerian artist Ben Enwonwu, was thought missing in action for years.

However, late last year, Giles Peppiatt, Director of Modern and Contemporary African Art, paid a visit to an apartment in north London and saw the work, to his amazement, hanging resplendent on the wall.

The author Ben Okri rushed to Bonhams to see it, and, on page 42, he tells the story of the artist and the sitter – and discusses the work's rightful place in the history of art.

In March, Bonhams is holding a sale on site at Bishopsgate House, the home of the late Walid Juffali. The Saudi businessman was an inveterate collector who filled his houses – and gardens –all over the world with art, books, sculptures and glittering glass chandeliers. As his daughter Dina said, "My father bought with his heart, always collecting things that he loved. I think that's the best way to be: the value of art is how it feels. It's so personal – that's what makes it interesting, it's very emotional." I couldn't agree more.

With Mick Hucknall on Sicilian wine, Ruth Rogers on her favourite restaurant and Lord Gowrie on the legacy of Sylvia Plath and his friend Ted Hughes, it's an issue infused with passion."

Lucinda Bredin

  1. Benedict Chukwukadibia Enwonwu M.B.E (Nigerian, 1917-1994) Tutu

    Page 8

    Africa's Mona Lisa

    The greatest work of contemporary African art vanished for 50 years. Ben Okri tells the story of Ben Enwonwu's masterpiece – and how it re-emerged

    There has recently been discovered, in London, a legendary African painting that had been lost for nearly 50 years. Its discovery is a significant cultural event which could alter the perception of African art.

    The ...

  2. AUDEBERT (JEAN BAPTISTE) & LOUIS JEAN PIERRE VIEILLOT [Oiseaux dorés ou à reflets métalliques:] Histoire naturelle et générale des colibris, oiseaux-mouches, jacamars et promerops. II: ...des grimpereaux et des oiseaux de paradis, 2 vol., FIRST EDITION, ONE OF 200 FOLIO COPIES, WITH THE CAPTIONS PRINTED IN GOLD, Paris, Desray, [1800]-1802

    Page 12

    Birds of paradise

    When nature meets artistry, the results take flight. Simon Barnes explores three of the greatest works in the history of ornithology

    It's been called the most beautiful finch in the world: purple, yellow, green, red and blue, colours recklessly laid on with, it seems, no other purpose than to delight the human eye. But it's as wild as ...

  3. Page 16

    A brush with greatness

    Wang Hui was a master of the art of scroll painting. But, under the patronage of the Qing dynasty, he also would help to heal a nation, as Matthew Wilcox explains

    In 1644 China's dilapidated Ming dynasty succumbed to the Manchus, a half-civilised and barely literate tribe from the northern steppes – now Manchuria.

    This catastrophe seemed to herald the ...

  4. Page 20

    Senna stage

    Ayrton Senna was not just a racing driver – he was an artist. Richard Williams remembers a man whose brilliance reached beyond the confines of sport

    For more than one generation of Formula One fans, Ayrton Senna remains the perfect Grand Prix driver. His shocking death in 1994, in a mid-race crash, was televised to the world. He was 34 years ...

  5. Page 26

    Power couplet

    Together, Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes revolutionised modern poetry – then tragedy struck. Grey Gowrie gives a personal account of two literary pioneers

    On the night of 11 February 1963, Sylvia Plath laid out bread and milk for her children Frieda and Nicholas, sealed her kitchen with rugs and committed suicide by turning on the gas. An American from New England ...

  6. Dale Chihuly (American, born 1941) Massive ChandelierPart of the Chihuly Spa, Bishopsgate Juffali Installation2004, Chihuly Studio number '04.194.In'blue and turquoise blown glass, steel armature 366cm wide x 366cm dee x 351cm high (144in wide x 144in deep x 138in high)

    Page 38

    High glass

    Lisa Freedman visits Bishopsgate House, on the eve of the sale of the late Walid Juffali's magnificent collection

    My father's approach was evolutionary," says Dina Juffali, daughter of the late Walid Juffali, one of Saudi Arabia's most significant collectors. "He grew up in an environment where the visual arts were hugely important, but from quite a traditional ...

  7. Leon Kossoff (British, born 1926) Nude on a Red Bed No. 3 1968

    Page 42

    London pride

    Amid the rubble of the post-Blitz capital, a group of emigré artists rediscovered figuration. Alistair Hicks encounters the School of London

    The term 'School of London' was invented by R.B. Kitaj in the foreword to a 1976 Hayward Gallery exhibition catalogue. Kitaj's idea was to connect a few dozen artists then resident in the swinging capital who were ...

  8. Le Corbusier (Charles-Edouard Jeanneret-Gris) (1887-1965) Baigneuse, barque et coquillage (Painted between 1934 - 1947)

    Page 59

    Pure genius

    Le Corbusier is the 20th-century's most influential architect. But it was his paintings that underpinned his structural mastery, says Martin Gayford

    One day in 1921, Fernand Léger was on the terrace of the Café de la Rotonde in Montparnasse when a friend told him he was about to see a very odd sight. Shortly afterwards, the painter beheld a ...

  9. Page 63

    Rebooting Rembrandt

    On a journey through the Dutch Golden Age, Lucinda Bredin encounters life, death, and building works in an engrossing virtual world

    There was a time, five years ago, when all the major museums of Amsterdam seemed to be in restauro, to use that frustrating Italian phrase. The Rijksmuseum was behind schedule due to difficulties caused by asbestos and the cycling ...

  10. Page 72

    Around the Globe

    Andrew Currie looks at a selection of Bonhams sales around the world

    Los Angeles
    Club class

    Few people associate weapons with art, but the beautiful Pole Club from the Cook Islands to be offered in Los Angeles in May confounds expectations. The akatara, as it is known in Maori, is a fearsome 300cm long, but its top is perfectly carved ...

  11. Page 80


    In and out of Bonhams salerooms

    Asia Week

    To mark New York's Asia Week in March, Bonhams will host six carefully curated Asian art sales. Buddhist sculpture is particularly well represented this year. In the Chinese Works of Art Sale (19 March) there is a rare grey limestone figure of Maitreya [right] from the Northern Wei dynasty, and an ...

  12. Page 86

    Inside Bonhams
    Grand designs

    Bonhams' three amigos of decorative art tell Lucinda Bredin how they share their passion for design

    Benjamin Walker is standing in Bonhams' newly refurbished mezzanine gallery in New York, pointing out the works that are to be offered in his December sale. "Just look around this room," he says, with a sweep of his hand. "You can see a Max ...

Related auctions