New Guinea (est. $300/500,000). The Torres Strait Islands are a group of at least 274 small islands that lie in Torres Strait, the waterway separating far northern continental Australia’s Cape York Peninsula and the island of New Guinea. Its inhabitants have produced some of the most impressive art in all of Melanesia. This hourglass-shaped drum, made from a single piece of wood, is carved with a wide mouth at one end, resembling a whale or large fish. It is a perfect blend between beauty and power, and is arguably the best example of this iconic genre. A Superb Middle Sepik River Female Suspension Hook from Papua New Guinea will also be offered from the Friede Collection (est. $100/150,000). The hook boasts a strong provenance; it was formerly in the famed tribal art collection of Pierre Vérité in Paris. Carved with stone tools to represent an ancestral spirit and with a deep blackened patina from generations of use, the hook would have been used to hang bags or baskets from the ceiling. The spring auction will also feature works from the Collection of Morton and Estelle Sosland of Kansas City, sold to benefit the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, which Morton Sosland helped to create in 1978. In just 30 years, the Community Foundation has partnered with an estimated 20,000 individuals to grant more than $1 billion to the community; has more than $1 billion in assets; and is recognized as a national leader in making sure every philanthropic investment returns the greatest emotional, civic and financial benefit possible. Among the highlights from the Sosland Collection is a Magnificent and Extremely Rare Fijian-Tongan Composite Breastplate from the Republic of the Fiji Islands (est. $250/350,000). Breastplates made of mother of pearl with segments of sperm whale tooth attached, called civanovono, were an important royal adornment worn around the neck and secured to the chest by Fijian chiefs. A similar breastplate, in the collection of the Fiji Museum at Suva, is said to have been traded from one Fijian king to another in exchange for the owner’s life after his defeat in the 1850s. Civanovono breastplates rarely appear at auction, and are highly sought after by collectors for their rarity, craftsmanship and exquisite materials; the Sosland plaque is the most important example to appear at auction in thirty years.
AFRICAN ART HIGHLIGHTS
Among the top works of African art is a Superb, Rare and Highly Important Fang-Betsi Reliquary Head from Gabon set on a base crafted by Japanese woodworker Inagaki (est. $200/300,000). This magnificent work of art recalls sculptures by Amedeo Modigliani, who is known to have studied African Art and might have seen this work in Paris during the 1910s and 1920s. The head has remained unseen and tucked away in the Minnesota collection of John P. Anderson for over 70 years. In 1935, Anderson, a young abstract painter, travelled to New York to see the groundbreaking exhibition at the then newly established
Museum of Modern Art entitled African Negro Art. Never