A recent sale in New York featured African American Fine Art. During the sale, one of the lots set a new auction record for Richmond Barthé (1901 – 1989), an African-American artist who became best known for his sculptures that, in his words, captured the spirituality of man.
During the summer of 1934, Barthé went to Paris, and while attending the Paris Folies Bergères one evening, he became enchanted with Josephine Baker and the Senegalese dancer, Féral Benga. In 1935, Barthé created a 19-inch bronze sculpture titled Féral Benga, of which there are only two known to still exist from the original casting. In 1937, the original sculpture was displayed at the Dance International exhibition at Rockefeller Center in New York City and is now one of the best-known works by the artist. The example that recently sold was cast in 1986, under the supervision of Barthé’s and the Richmond Barthe Trust; it is numbered 1/10 and was estimated to make $40-60K. As there were several interested buyers, the bidding quickly escalated to $100K. It then came down to just two very determined collectors, and it finally hammered at $520K ($629 w/p).