Arguably, the first time photography was offered for sale at an auction in Nigeria was at the Arthouse Contemporary sale in Lagos on May 9, 2011, which realized a sum of N605, 000 ($ 3,781) but paled in comparison to the presale estimate of N2,600,000 –N3,400,000 ($ 16,250-21,250). This figure was realized from the sale of the single work, Argungun by George Osodi valued at N500,000-N700,000 ($ 3,125-4,375) .
The November 21 sale the same year featured 3 photographs, but fared no better with N396,000 ($ 2,475) achieved from photography sales, far lower than the presale estimate of N1,400,000-N1,900,000 ($8,750-11,875). Again, a single work, Beating Room by Adolphus Opara was sold from the works offered. Both auctions clearly underline buyers’ reluctance to fully accept photography as a collectible medium.
The May 2012 sale is perhaps Arthouse’s most successful inclusion of photography in an auction till date. Here, the auction achieved a 100% success sales rate with all the 6 works offered realizing a sum of N3, 740, 000($23,375). The top-selling photograph on the evening, Adekola Adeleke’s The Charge, sold for N2,200,000 ($13,750), establishing a record for the artist. Yetunde Babaeko also set a record for her work with The Pretty Stranger Who Killed the King I selling for N220,000 ($1,375), above a pre-sale estimate of N150,000-N180,000 ($ 940 -1,125)
The November 2012 auction by Arthouse Contemporary recorded a dip in sales from photography as only N2,123, 000 ($13,270) was achieved, with a 50% success rate as only 4 of the 8 works offered sold. The highest sold photograph was George Osodi’s Eyo at N1,320,00 ($8,250) which set a personal best.
Arthouse Contemporary auction of May 13, 2013 included 3 contemporary photographs, which recorded a 100% sale and collectively achieved N3,366,000 ( $21,040, including premium) against a pre-sale estimate of N2,280,000-2,920,000 ($1,425-1,8250).
With earlier successes recorded this year for photography, Arthouse’s forthcoming auction sales of November 18, 2013 will hopefully boost confidence in collectors to acquire works of photography.