Contemporary West African Figures
Appraised Value: $2,000 - $3,000 (1998)
$400 - $800 (2011)
IMAGE: 1 of 2
Appraisal Video: (2:22)
Antiques Appraiser and Consultant
GUEST: Well, I have a girlfriend that knows that I collect primitive pieces, and she was moving-- these had been left behind by her landlord in her house-- she didn't want them anymore. What I didn't know was that they were full of little crunchy-munchy bugs inside them. I got them to my house and heard all this chewing noise and quickly rushed them outside and doused them with insecticide. And then started doing some research, trying to figure out what they were and what the history was on them.
APPRAISER: And what did your research lead you to believe?
GUEST: Well, the first thing I did was take it to the museum, and I ran into a gentleman from Nigeria who told me that I was a very rich woman, that these were from Africa.
GUEST: And I went from there downtown to the library and did some research. The closest thing I could come up with was a tribe on the African coast called the Dogon. These are tribal deity figures. They're much larger than you would normally find.
APPRAISER: Okay. And what do you think they're worth?
GUEST: Well, the Nigerian said $100,000.
APPRAISER: You want to believe that, don't you?
GUEST: (laughs) Sure!
APPRAISER: Okay, let's look at these pieces for a minute. Now, first of all, as you very correctly said, objects like this probably would be more in this size-- that's how big they should be. These are much larger, and what they are, are classic examples of how the Africans, when they're carving for the Western market, tend to make things bigger, okay? These pieces are contemporary. We have a decorative market in African art, and we have a traditional market. These are decorative, and all of the features are exaggerated.
APPRAISER: And I can tell you now, as contemporary pieces, they're not valued on the fine art market, they'd be valued on the decorative market. And these, in their present condition, which is a little bit rough with the cracks and the breaks, these things would each be worth, in the decorative market, $1,000 to $1,500 maximum.
APPRAISER: Maybe a little bit less because of the condition problems. I'm sorry your Nigerian was a little off, because I know you'd prefer $100,000 over $2,000.
GUEST: (laughs) Oh, yes, I wanted to be rich.
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