Rugby player turned collector organizes contemporary African art sale for Sotheby’s London

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Maro Itoje has organized a selection of contemporary works of art, mainly works depicting black subjects, for the Sotheby’s sale in London from November 4 to 10.

Courtesy of Sotheby’s

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Maro Itoje, an English rugby player who has been collecting African art since 2014, has organized an edition of portraits of contemporary African artists which will be on sale in November at Sotheby’s London.

Nicknamed “Super Maro”, the 27-year-old rugby player signed his first professional contract in 2012 and helped England win three titles in the Six Nations, an annual rugby union competition between England, France, Ireland, Italy and Scotland. , and Wales.

Itoje started acquiring African art for his own apartment in 2014, although he grew up around African art in his family home in London.

“While many see sport and art as two disciplines on the opposite spectrum, I think they are more similar than you might think,” Itoje said in a statement via Sotheby’s. “Sport is about self-expression, the way athletes play is an expression of who they are, and I think it’s the same with the way artists express themselves, they do it at through their work. ”

Moufouli Bello’s painting “Breonna” pays tribute to Breonna Taylor, an African-American woman who was shot and killed in her apartment in Louisville, Kentucky, in March 2020.

Courtesy of Sotheby’s

For Sotheby’s ‘Contemporary Curated’ sale from November 4-10 in London, Itoje has selected works by some of Africa’s most sought-after artists, including Senegalese artist Omar Ba, Foster Sakyiamah who lives and works in Accra, Ghana , Oluwole Omofemi from Nigeria, and Beninese artist Moufouli Bello.

The athlete focused on works depicting Black subjects, identity and culture.

Ba Identity 2, executed in 2017, an oil, pencil, acrylic and gouache mounted on cardboard, has an estimated value of between £ 20,000 and £ 30,000 (US $ 27,500 and US $ 41,300).

Bello’s acrylic on canvas, Breonna, signed and dated in 2020, honors Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old African-American woman who was shot and killed in her apartment in Louisville, Ky., in March 2020. It has a low estimate of £ 10,000.

The sale features two paintings of Sakyiamah that the artist created in 2021. Both feature black women wearing colorful sunglasses and scarves. They have an estimate of between £ 2,400 and £ 3,500 each.

“I chose these works for the ‘Contemporary Curated’ auction because they left a lasting impression on me,” he said. “I hope these works will similarly inspire those who stand in front of them and give them the freedom to design their own take out, just as they did for me.”

Itoje’s selection also includes work on striped abstract paper by Sean Scully,
Hoju’s story by Japanese artist Shoko Maemoto, and a work by British artist Flora Yukhnovich titled To study. Two works by Derek Williams, an American artist, are also on display and are estimated between £ 10,000 and £ 15,000 each.

The online auction starts on November 4 and lasts until November 10. The works will be exhibited in Sotheby’s galleries on New Bond Street, London.

Launched in New York in 2014, Sotheby’s Contemporary Curated sales were held in London, Milan and Hong Kong in collaboration with recognizable names in music, fashion, art and other fields, including Margherita Missoni, Oprah Winfrey, Russell Tovey and Jay Chou.


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