They are among the world’s greatest fortunes, and are devoured by a passion: African art. These collectors, whether they set their sights on classical, modern or contemporary art, accumulate paintings, sculptures and installations created by artists from the continent. Some do it discreetly, almost in secret. Others claim it, creating foundations and museums to exhibit the works which they have acquired over the years in auction rooms around the world.
Who are these insatiable collectors? How much does this passion cost them? In a survey conducted between December 2021 and January 2022 of more than 200 collectors, the London-based platform IMO Dara, responsible for connecting collectors of African art with dealers and researchers, lifted part of the veil. . In Voice of The Collector, the organization delivers figures and trends with rare precision in this environment.
While Dakar Biennial in full swing in Senegal and that the international art fair 1-54 – an event devoted to contemporary art from the continent and its diaspora – has just ended in Paris and New York, Young Africa invites you to discover the composite portrait of these collectors. Unsurprisingly, classical African art is still widely acclaimed. It would be present in the collections of 86% of those questioned. The average price for the acquisition of a work? Between $10,000 and $50,000. Its mode of purchase has, on the other hand, evolved. Dealers, once privileged intermediaries for classical art collectors, have been relegated to the background in favor of online auctions.
For contemporary art pieces, average prices are around $5,000 and 31% of acquisitions are now made directly with the artist, without going through a gallery. Regarding the thorny subject of refunds, opinions are more than mixed. Only 36% of collectors say they are in favor of objects of questionable provenance being returned to their country of origin, and four in ten collectors are simply opposed to this idea.
Rich white people over 60
Like the French Jean Pigozzi – who donated 45 works of contemporary African art to MoMA in New York -, Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière – part of whose collection is at the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris – , Jean Claude Gandur (AOG) or Henri Seydoux (Parrot), men, entrepreneurs, sixties and Westerners still dominate the sector. Out of 10 collectors, 9 are from Europe or North America.
Only 8% of collectors are of African origin. But their share is increasing, including among women, with a preference for modern and contemporary art. Among them, Marie-Cécile Zinsou in Ouidah (Benin), Kamel Lazaar in Tunis (Tunisia), Janine Kacou Diagou in Abidjan (Ivory Coast) or even Hassanein Hiridjee in Antananarivo (Madagascar).
Each of them has an eponymous foundation, thanks to which they exhibit their collection and support artists from the continent, thereby increasing their rating on the world market. Who collects what? Where do the works come from? At what price are they acquired? Who are the African art collectors? Decryption in infographics.