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.
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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.