[...] The cancellation notice of the auction of Queen-Mother Idia mask on 4 December by Sotheby’s could not have been shorter: “The Benin Ivory Pendant Mask and other items consigned by the descendants of Lionel Galway which Sotheby’s had announced for auction in February 2011 have been withdrawn from sale at the request of the
consignors". This short notice is a great contrast to the enthusiastic announcement of the proposed auction where the excellent artistry of the hip mask was underlined. “All of the ivory masks are widely recognized for the quality of their craftsmanship, for the enormous scale of Benin’s artistic achievement and for their importance in the field of African
art “. But what more does the cancellation tell us? Very little except that the proposed auction will not take place as announced. Will the auction take place sometime in the future and somewhere else other than at Sotheby’s? Will the mask be silently passed on to one of the so-called “universal museums” without our knowing?
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Kwame Opoku, 'REFLECTIONS ON THE ABORTIVE QUEEN-MOTHER IDIA MASK AUCTION: TACTICAL WITHDRAWAL OR DECISION OF PRINCIPLE?'