Tribal art: the new big deal for collectors

As we've previously reported, contemporary and 20th century art has consistently proven itself as a good investment in the current market and throughout the recession.

But collectors aren't just turning to the likes of Pablo Picasso and Marc Chagall. Tribal art is also apparently finding new buyers - particularly at the all-important entry level.

A Tapuanu gable mask, sold for $33.5k

The trend emerged at Bonhams & Butterfields' February 12 sale of African, Oceanic and Pre-Columbian art, at which sales totaled more than $500,000.

The highest selling lot in the sale was a Tapuanu gable mask from the Mortlock Islands, presented by a converted chief to a Belgian Mission prior to World War II.

Consigned by Scott Duggleby, a private Dallas collector, it sold for $33,550.

Incredibly, the mask went to auction with a relatively meagre $6,000-$8,000 estimate.

Also among the top lots was a pair of Maori pendants, including a four-inch long carved nephrite example collected in the 1850s from the Rotorua area, North Island of New Zealand.

Estimated at $8,000-$12,000, competitive bidding pushed it up to an incredible $45,750.

Elsewhere, a great entry-level investment sold to a very lucky buyer: another Maori nephrite pendant from the 1940s which doubled its estimate, realising $11,590.

Bonhams' sale featured a varied collection of masks, tools, weapons, decorations, figures, vessels and jewellery; many of noted provenance and consigned by respected private collectors.


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