A painting by Ben Enwonwu has been bought for $1.4 million at an auction in London.
The artwork, ‘Christine’, was bought after the owners googled the artist’s signature, according to the BBC.
Painted in 1971 in Lagos state, the artwork is said to have been in the home of the family of the sitter since.
Sotheby, the auction house, reportedly said the sitters had no idea of the significance of the painting.
“They were unaware of the significance of the painting or the importance of the artist, until a chance ‘googling’ of the signature,” Sotheby was quoted to have said.
Christine, the subject of the painting, was reportedly born in New York but was said to have moved to Ghana in her late 20s to live with her stepfather.
She then moved to Lagos in 1969 where she reportedly struck up a friendship with the artist.
Enwonwu, who died in 1994, also produced, ‘Tutu’, which was described as ‘African Mona Lisa’ by Ben Okri, a novelist.
Tutù, a portrait of an Ìfẹ́ princess, was painted in 1973 but got missing in 1975. The painting was later sold last year for $1.5m after it was discovered in a London flat.
Enwonwu, who was celebrated as “Africa’s greatest artist” was a student at Goldsmiths, Ruskin College, and the Slade School of Fine Arts, London in the 1940s.
He became more known when he was commissioned to create a bronze sculpture of Queen Elizabeth during her visit to Nigeria in 1956.
His art was described as “a unique form of African modernism”.