A portrait of Nigerian princess Adetutu Ademiluyi was found in a North London apartment on February 6. Ben Enwonwu’s 1974 artwork affectionately known as Tutu, was hailed as a sign of appeasement after the Nigerian-Biafran clash.
It is known to be prominently displayed in homes across the West African nation. Enwonwu painted three versions of Tutu – which were reported as lost after his death in 1994. The remaining two versions are still missing.
Enwonwu was a student at Goldsmiths, Ruskin College, Oxford, and the Slade in England in the 1940s. He created a Bronze sculpture of the Queen which is still affixed to parliament buildings in Lagos. The aforementioned project bought Enwonwu wide recognition.
Author Ben Okri was reported by the BBC describing the painting as: “the most significant discovery in contemporary African art in over 50 years.”
Giles Peppiat found the masterpiece. He commented to The Guardian: “Sometimes you go somewhere on a wing and a prayer, you don’t know what you are going to see … this was an enormous surprise. It is a picture, image-wise, that has been known to me for a long time, so it was a real lightbulb moment; I thought: ‘Oh my god, this is extraordinary.”
Tutu is set to be auctioned off by Bonhams in London on February 28. It is expected to fetch for $300,000-$400,000 dollars.