Art of Africa, the Pacific and the Americas - Highly important collection of Seymour and Alyce Lazar and the collection of John Hewett

This Lempertz auction on 1 February 2023 comprised 217 lots, primarily from Africa and the Pacific and was one of the best Lempertz auctions specialising in art from Africa and Oceania. The 159 lots from the Collection of Seymour and Alyce Lazar were particularly successful with bidders from across the world, from Polynesia, Africa, USA, Canada, Australia and of course Europe, in which the online bids once again exhibited an increasing and significant share. The sales total reached 1.275 million euro and thus almost three times last year’s result, and with it was a white glove sale. Lempertz is a market leader in works from Oceania and has made a name for itself globally in this respect.

The auction featured 159 lots from the well-known and important collection of Seymour and Alyce Lazar. From Palm Springs, Seymour Lazar was a successful entertainment lawyer turned stockbroker and bold investor who began collecting in the 1960s. Amongst his friends and clients he counted Lenny Bruce, Miles Davis, Alan Ginsberg, Maya Angelou and the psychedelic drug advocate Timothy Leary. He loved putting together large series of objects – clubs, combs, spoons, etc – many of which he acquired from dealers such as his long-term friend Peter Adler in London, or from auctions. The various provenances of the objects list some of the most famous names from the history of the collecting of African and Oceanic art – Lieutenant General Pitt Rivers, Harry Beasley, Helena Rubinstein, Klaus Perls, J.J. Klejman, Morris Pinto, Ernst Heinrich, Harold Rome, Stéphen Chauvet, Henri Kamer and Ben Heller.

A French collector had to fight long and hard for a female figure by the Mossi people, estimated at € 4/6,000, only winning after a bid of € 50,400 (lot 27). This was one of the highlights of the auction. Another steep rise with the same result was seen for another female figure, this time from Southeast Africa, successfully pursued by an American collector against numerous bidders (lot 50, € 4/6,000). A further high point was for a 157.5 cm high Abelam figure from Papua New Guinea. With a starting price of € 6/8,000, an American collector won the piece for € 40,000 (lot 114). A mask from New Britain saw a dramatic rise with a French collector pushing the estimate of € 5/8,000 up to € 41,600 (lot 91).

Another top lot took the form of a rare figure from New Caledonia, once in the collection of the artist Feliks Topolski, which was acquired by a French private collector for € 31,500 (lot 73, € 15/20,000). The same bidder took on further objects from that group of islands including a 183 cm long wooden decorative pinnacle of a house which he raised from € 8/12,000 up to € 35,300 (lot 70). A Luba stool from the Democratic Republic of the Congo moved to the hands of a French collector for € 25,200 (lot 43, € 10,000), whilst a stool of the Songye people from the same country has now joined a Portuguese collection for € 30,200 (lot 45, € 15,000). A beautiful Pende mask, also from the same location and once in the collection of Saul and Marsha Stanoff, Tanzana, CA, was bought by a French collector for the hammer price of € 20,200 (lot 39, € 5/8,000).

All these objects came from the Lazar Collection.

Finally, a group of beautiful masks and artifacts from the Congo included an unusually old and rare female Ngady amwaash mask of the Kuba, acquired in the 1970s from the Antwerp dealer Nadya Levi. The mask type is from the three kingly masks produced by the Kuba; this example is from the First Dynasty and was commissioned by Queen Ngokadi who wanted to enhance the role of women. Consigned from a Belgian collection, a French collector invested € 25,700 for the mask (lot 167, € 20,000).

The next auction of African and Oceanic Art will take place on 10th May, as usual at Lempertz in Brussels.

Auction Dates

Auction 1216 - Arts of Africa, the Pacific & the Americas

African and Oceanic Art
Wednesday 01. 02. 2023, 02:00 pm
Lot 1 - 217
Auction 1216

Wednesday, February 1st, 2023
2 pm
Grote Hertstraat 6, Rue du Grand Cerf

Thursday, January 26 – Saturday, January 28 , 10 am – 6 pm
Sunday, January 29, 11 am – 5 pm
Monday, January 30 – Tuesday, January 31, 10 am – 6 pm

Auction 1218 - African and Oceanic Art

Wednesday 10. 05. 2023
Further information about this auction will be available soon.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at 0221/92 57 29–30.

Edgar Abs
Press and public relations
Cologne, February 6, 2023