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Art Market – As photography gains a foothold on the Nigerian Market

WRITTEN BY: Oliver Enwonwu


Arguably, the first time photography was offered for sale at an auction in Nigeria was at the Arthouse Contemporary sale in Lagos on May 9, 2011, which realized a sum of N605, 000 ($3,781.25) but paled in comparison to the presale estimate of N2,600,000 –N3,400,000 ($16,250-21,250).  This figure was realized from the sale of the single work, Argungun by George Osodi, valued at N500,000-N700,000 ($3,125-4,375).

The November 21 sale the same year also featured photography, but fared no better with N396,000 ($2,475) achieved from photography sales, far lower than the presale estimate of N1,400,000-N1,900,000 ($8,750-11,875). Again, a single work, Beating Room by Adolphus Opara, was sold from three works offered. Both auctions clearly underline buyers’ reluctance to fully accept photography as a collectible medium.

The May 2012 sale is perhaps Arthouse’s most successful inclusion of photography in an auction till date. Here, the auction achieved a 100% success sales rate with all the 6 works offered realizing a sum of N3, 740, 000($23,375). The top-selling photograph on the evening, Adekola Adeleke’s The Charge, sold for N2,200,000 ($13,750), establishing a record for the artist. Yetunde Babaeko also set a record for her work with The Pretty Stranger Who Killed the King I, selling for N220,000 ($1,375), above a pre-sale estimate of N150,000-N180,000 ($937.5 -1,125).

The November 2012 auction by Arthouse Contemporary recorded a dip in sales from photography as only N2,123,000 ($13,268.75) was achieved, with a 50% success rate as only four of the eight works offered sold. The highest sold photograph was George Osodi’s Eyo at N1,320,00 ($8,250), which set a personal best.   

Arthouse Contemporary auction of May 13, 2013 included three contemporary photographs, which recorded a 100% sale and collectively achieved N3,366,000 ($21,037.50, including premium) against a pre-sale estimate of N2,280,000-2,920,000 ($1,425-1,8250).

With earlier successes recorded this year for photography, Arthouse’s forthcoming auction sales of November 18, 2013 will hopefully boost confidence in collectors to acquire works of photography.


No. Artist Title and Date Date Sold  Estimate Result
1 Adeleke Adekola

The Charge

May 7, 2012 N1,000,000-1,200,000 N2,200,000
2 Adeleke Adekola

The Dredgers: Rice Bag Armada

May 13, 2013 N1,200,000-1,500,000 N1,980,000
3 George Osodi 


Nov 26, 2012 N850,000-1,000,000 N1,320,000
4 George Osodi 

Lagos Lagoon

May 13, 2013       N1,000,000-1,200,000 N990,000
5 George Osodi 


May 9, 2011 N500,000 - 700,000 N605,000
6 George Osodi 

Hall of Fame-Olusegun Obasanjo

May 7, 2012 N300,000-400,000 N462,000
6 George Osodi 

Maryland Ikeja

May 7, 2012 N500,000-600,000 N462,000
7 Yetunde Ayeni Baba-Eko

Praying Mantis

May 13, 2013 N180,000-220,000 N396,000
7 Adolphus Opara

Beating Room

Nov 21, 2011 N300,000-400,000 N396,000
8 Rom Isichei


Nov 26, 2012 N400,000-500,000 N385,000
9 Sangotoye Olayinka


Nov 26, 2012 N100,000-120,000 N220,000
9 Yetunde Ayeni Baba-Eko

The Pretty Stranger Who Killed the King I

May 7, 2012 N150,000-180,000 N220,000
10 Yetunde Ayeni Baba-Eko

The Pretty Stranger Who Killed the King II

May 7, 2012 N150,000-180,000 N198,000
10 Sangotoye Olayinka

The Lost Coin

May 7, 2012 N80,000-100,000 N198,000
10 Yetunde Ayeni Baba-Eko

Osun Goddess

Nov 26, 2012 N180,000-220,000 N198,000


NOTE: This article first appeared in Omenka Magazine’s Photography Issue (Issue 2).