The exceptional collection of Liuba and Ernesto Wolf

Following many years of successful partnership between Artcurial and Lempertz for the auctions of jewellery and gems, which this July was crowned by a record total result of 14 million euros, and a winning bid of 1.8 million euros for a rare blue diamond acquired by Lempertz, these two leading auction houses will now be teaming up for a joint sale of tribal art

In Paris on 10th December 2014, the two houses will be auctioning the important African art collection of Liuba and Ernesto Wolf, which comprises of carved tribal spoons, almost all of which are exceedingly rare.

Ernesto Wolf (1918 – 2003) was born in Stuttgart and is most well-known for the important collection of Byzantine and Medieval glass which he bequeathed to the Landesmuseum in Stuttgart. This collection allows the museum to present a complete picture of the development of glass from its beginnings in the antique era to this day. Wolf was also an avid collector of modern art, antiquarian books and tribal art. Wolf came from a German Jewish family of cotton merchants and fled from the Nazis in 1938 to settle in Argentina – which turned out to be a highly profitable economic move. Wolf moved to Brazil in 1950, where he met the woman who was later to become his wife, the renowned sculptor Liuba, Together they purchased numerous masterpieces and unusual items for their collections.    

The fine quality collection of carved African spoons will comprise of 152 items sold in 127 lots. It encompasses an unusual selection of spoons from almost every region of the continent, including works of the Dan, Baoulé, Lega, Senufo, Zulu, Fang and Tsangui. The top lot in this auction is a 62cm high anthropomorphically carved wooden spoon with a standing male figure estimated at €100 – 150,000 and made by the Dan tribe of the Ivory Coast (lot 44). A further exceptional anthropomorphic Dan spoon is estimated at 70 – 90,000 (lot 48), and a third at 50 – 70,000 (lot 61). A spoon by the Liberian We tribe is estimated at 10 – 15,000 (lot 64). A 60cm high Nigerian Koro vase formed as a standing male figure is estimated at 15 – 20,000 (lot 70), and the auction also includes a spoon topped with a head, made by the Fang tribe of Gabon (lot 71, est. 30 – 40,000).

You can view the online catalogue here.