Nelson Mandela portrait auctions for $192,500 to set record

An arresting portrait of ailing former South African leader Nelson Mandela has set a new record for a South African photograph.

Nelson Mandela portrait Adrian Steirn 21 icons
'As he reflects on his life, we reflect on his legacy and our future.'

On December 3, the charity behind the sale, 21 Icons SA Africa, announced that the work had sold for $192,371 to become the most valuable taken by a South African artist.

The portrait was captured by Adrian Stern, showing Mandela's face reflected in a mirror. It is part of a larger series of 21 portraits of iconic South Africans by Stern, and the first to be unveiled. 

The photographer commented: "I chose to photograph a portrait of Nelson Mandela holding a mirror so that we could see a man reflecting on his life. As he reflects on his life, we reflect on his legacy and our future."

The portrait was bought by an anonymous US collector, displaying the strong international demand for Mandela memorabilia. Profits from the sale will be donated to the Nelson Mandela Children's Hospital and the World Wildlife Fund.

More strong sales of Mandela memorabilia were seen at Antiquarian Auctions on November 21, when a letter sent by Mandela to well-known human rights lawyer Priscilla Jana, from Pollsmoor Prison in 1988, sold for $10,500, making a 320% increase on its $2,500 high estimate.

Nelson Mandela letter
Priscilla Jana is a human rights lawyer and ANC politician, who aided Mandela during his incarceration

The PFC40 Autograph Index shows that Nelson Mandela's autograph is the most valuable of any living figure at £3,500 ($5,731), a title shared with Fidel Castro.

Paul Fraser Collectibles has a fantastic signed photograph of Nelson Mandela for sale.

Recent and related articles

·  Kennedy Oval Office flags auction for $425,000 in Dallas | 25 November 2013

·  Nelson Mandela memorabilia to auction for $118,000 in South Africa | 22 November 2013

·  1963 - a classic year in collecting 50 years on | 6 November 2013

Your collecting

View our stock items for sale  |  Portfolios for sale

Guides and analysis

Investing in Art  |  10 reasons to invest in collectibles  |  Which asset is right for you?

Images: 21 Icons SA Africa - Adrian Steirn

Featured products

Elvis Presley Authentic Strand of Hair
Elvis Presley Authentic Strand of Hair
Sale price£399
In stock
Fidel Castro signed certificateFidel Castro Signed Certificate
Fidel Castro signed certificate
Sale price£2,995
In stock
King Henry VIII Autographed DocumentKing Henry VIII Autographed Document
King Henry VIII Autographed Document
Sale price£55,000
In stock