If you ever had any doubt about the marketability of modern and Contemporary Africa or about the fact that the fervid rise in prices of work in this area is no fluke or a temporary thing, the just-announced entrance of Sotheby's should tell you something. Since 2007 when the Lagos-based upstart Arthouse Limited and the veteran Bonhams established dedicated auctions for modern and contemporary African art--with major emphasis on Nigeria, nevertheless--we have seen record sales for many artists who until then fetched relatively small change in the even smaller secondary market there was for this art. It is no surprise, quite frankly, that Sotheby's, the world largest art business, has now decided to join the fun or fray, and we can only be sure that this will mean more keenly watched auctions and more acute trajectory for the price of African art. Good or bad, it means that this field is making sure and steady march to the mainstream. If it were real estate, you could say that is now undergoing gentrification. Come May 16, we shall see, for real, what signals Sotheby's inaugural auction will be sending to primary and secondary market for modern and contemporary African art.
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