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The Most Valued Piece of Modern Nigerian Art Was Just Discovered In a London Apartment

It's not everyday that a rare treasure is unearthed in a place as ordinary as an apartment, but that's precisely what happened on Tuesday when a famous 1974 painting by Nigerian artist Ben Enwonwu, depicting the Ife Princess Adetutu Ademiluyi, was discovered in a "modest London flat," reports BBC Africa.

The famous painting is considered a national symbol of the end of the Biafran War, and had gone missing in 1994 after Enwonwu's death along with three other versions of "Tutu."


Enwonwu is widely considered "The Father of Nigerian Modernism," and the famous paining is now being auctioned for around 420,000 dollars (300,000 pounds), making it the highest valued piece by a modern Nigerian artist.

Celebrated Nigerian author, Ben Okri expressed the gravity of the moment, calling it "the most significant discovery in contemporary African art in over 50 years."

"It is a cause for celebration," he continued "a potentially transforming moment in the world of art."

Enwonwu was one of the first international artists to win international acclaim, and was famously commissioned to create a bronze sculpture of Queen Elizabeth II upon he visit to Nigeria in 1956.

Before stumbling upon the painting, Director of Modern Art at Bonham's in London, Giles Peppiatt, said he had been frequently asked to appraise potential Tutus," but they all turned out to be copies. Its unclear how exactly the paintings made their way to London.

"Tutu" will be auctioned on February 28 at Bonham's.

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