Art Connoisseur (not)

Subject: I’m rich

Date: Sun, 13 Mar 2016

I’m rich. I have an early Willie Bester, complete with crushed Mainstay Cane spirits bottle top and torn-off piece of an Omo packet.

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Read this from Smithsonian Libraries and weep:

Contemporary African art from the Jean Pigozzi collection / foreword by Mark Gibourne; [day of sale, June 24, 1999]. London: Sotheby’s, 1999. 132pp., 57 lots. illus. (color).

The 1999 Sotheby’s auction of works from the Jean Pigozzi collection was the first major sale of modern African art by a top auction house.

Remarkably, all the works sold. Most fetched more than the estimated prices. Realized prices ranged from £2,000 to £7,000. The top price was a Willie Bester mixed media work going for £10,000 (pre-sale estimate, £4,000-£6,000). Not bad. The sale was billed as a benefit for Unicef and to establish the Jean Pigozzi Prize for Contemporary African Art.

Confession: When Aitch bought it in Kaapstad one early holiday while we were rich and child-free, I raised my eyebrows and thought Hmmmm . . .

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Sent: Thursday, 17 November 2016
Subject: Willie Bester art

Aitch’s Willie Bester artwork is looking even better – again. One was sold at an auction of David Bowie’s African art collection. (Admittedly there’s a “David Bowie factor” which one art dealer reckoned added 50% to the prices) –

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Bester’s “What Happened in the Western Cape?” fetched R358,000.

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She’d have done this if she was here, so here goes:

“Remember how you said ‘Are you mad?’ when I bought it in Cape Town, Koos?!”

(Mumble, well I didn’t say ‘mad’. I’m sure I said “Are you sure?”, mumble. It was January 1993 and Aitch paid R2660 on budget over 6mths on her credit card. She pinned the slip to the back of the painting. What an investment! Note how they still used the old shook-shook credit card machine back then).

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