Ernst Beyeler Collection mask exceeds estimate by 2,120%

A rare mask from the Bidjogo people of Guinea Bissau achieved an increase of 2,120% on its estimate at Christie's sale of the Ernst Beyeler Collection in New York.

bidjogo mask ernst beyeler collection
A rare Bidjogo mask

The collection, which comprised part of Christie's Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas auction, came from the estate of Ernst Beyeler, a prominent art dealer who died in 2010.

Beyeler's collection includes many high-end art works aside from his array of tribal artefacts, which featured prominently in the May 10 sale.

The Bidjogo mask from the Bissagos Islands, situated off the coast of Guinea Bissau, provided the most exciting sale of the auction.

The extremely rare mask left a trail of dust in its wake as it shot past its high estimate of $12,000 to achieve a final price of $266,500. The sawfish-shaped mask would have been used by the Bidjogo people during the initiation ceremonies of their young men.

Masks of dangerous animals, such as the sawfish, would only have been worn by the strongest and most mature men.

A fish-shaped platter from the Solomon Islands sold for $314,500 against an estimate of $80,000-120,000, making it the top-lot of the auction. The price represents a 162% increase on estimate for the item.

The understated platter was acquired during the Korrigane expedition (1934-1936), a voyage of discovery that saw more than 2,500 objects handed to the Musée de l'Homme prior to its opening in 1937. The platter is representative of Beyeler's appreciation of simple, linear forms.

A large lega ivory mask from the Democratic Republic of the Congo also featured, with a pre-sale estimate of $30,000-50,000. The highly sought-after piece brought $62,500 to the auction.

For more information on the auction, read Paul Fraser Collectibles' preview here.



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