Warua Master Luba statue sells for $3.6m at Sotheby's

A Warua Master Luba male statue from the Democratic Republic of Congo has sold for $3.6m at Sotheby's New York.

It led a sale of African, Oceanic and pre-Columbian art on May 15.

The Warua Master was an anonymous sculptor of the Luba tribe active during the 18th century. His work displays exceptional technical and artistic skill, with the result that it has become highly sought after.

Luba figure Sothebys
The figure was produced in the Democratic Republic of Congo during the 18th century

Sotheby's explained its enduring appeal: "The male statue offered here is unique in the Warua Master's œuvre and rightfully considered to be the artist's greatest masterpiece.

"Published and exhibited numerous times throughout the past four decades, it has inspired some of the greatest connoisseurs of African art in their work, including Philippe Guimiot, Jacques Kerchache, and Ezio Bassani.

"The Male Statue by the Warua Master is one of the most iconic works of Congolese sculpture."

An Edo terracotta head produced in the Benin Kingdom of Nigeria in the 16th century also sold well, achieving $1.9m against a $600,000 estimate - an increase of 216.6%.

Known as the Casier head, after its previous owners, it dates to the height of Benin's economic and military might.

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