France: an African mask sold for 4.2 million euros despite protests

A carved mask from Central Africa, dating from the 19th century, was sold in France for 4.2 million euros on Saturday, despite protests from Gabonese in the auction room who demanded the “return” of the object.

 France: an African mask sold for 4.2 million euros despite protests

The rare wooden “Ngil” mask, used in ceremonies by the Fang people of Gabon, surpassed its cost by 300,000 to 400,000 euros when auctioned in the city of Montpellier, in the south of France.

“It’s a case of concealment,” exclaimed a man describing himself as a member of the Gabonese community of Montpellier from the back of the auction room, surrounded by half a dozen compatriots.

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“We are going to file a complaint. Our ancestors, my ancestors, from the Fang community, we will recover this object,” the protester added, calling the mask an “ill-gotten colonial good. »

France: an African mask sold for 4.2 million euros despite protests

Auctioneer Jean-Christophe Giuseppi said the auction was “completely legal. »

Accompanied by security guards, the demonstrators left the auction room calmly, but continued their protest against the sale of African works of art.

Saturday’s auction also included a Congolese chair which sold for 44,000 euros.

If costs and fees are added, the total amount paid by the successful bidder for the Fang mask amounts to 5.25 million euros, which is close to the record for such an object.

In 2006, a similar Fang mask went for 5.9 million euros at an auction in Paris.

photo credit: africannews

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