A drawing by late president Nelson Mandela of the door of his prison cell on Robben Island – where he was held for 18 years – sold on Thursday in New York for $112 575 (about R1,6 million).
“The Cell Door, Robben Island” – completed in 2002 by the Nobel peace laureate – exceeded the top end of the estimated range provided by Bonhams, which put its value at $60 000 to $90 000.
The wax pastel crayon drawing shows a few bars of the cell door and a key in the lock, sketched in purple.
The work is one of the few that Mandela – who was jailed for 27 years in total and inspired the struggle against apartheid – kept until his death in 2013.
Mandela’s daughter Pumla Makaziwe Mandela previously had the work in her possession.
South Africa’s first black president did a total of 20 to 25 drawings, according to Giles Peppiatt, the auction house’s director of modern African art. Some were reproduced as lithographs to raise money for the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
#SaleUpdate: "The Cell Door, Robben Island" by #NelsonMandela, sold for $112,575 inc. premium in today's Modern and Contemporary African Art in NY. The work, which Mandela created in 2002, was one of the few the statesman kept for his personal collection https://t.co/1fBKM8AUcJ pic.twitter.com/fUv17HXgPd
— Bonhams (@bonhams1793) May 2, 2019
Mandela was jailed from 1962 to 1990. He was held at Robben Island off Cape Town from 1964 to 1982. Mandela served as South African president from 1994 to 1999.
Mandela’s drawing was one of six works that surpassed $100 000 at the sale of African art on Thursday.
Another South African artist, Irma Stern (1894-1966), earned the highest price of the auction – $312 575 – for “Malay Girl,” a portrait from 1946.