Oceanic Art Stars in Sotheby’s Paris Sale

  • Karen Cakebread

The Frum Collection of Oceanic Art—52 items in all—is to be auctioned by Sotheby’s in Paris on September 16. Billed as the most significant assortment of Oceanic art to come to market in the last 30 years, the works from Polynesia and Melanesia include precontact pieces (made before Europeans arrived on the scene), which are the rarest and most highly valued in this category. The late Murray Frum, a Canadian real estate developer, spent 50 years assembling a diverse art collection that extended from pre-Columbian Mesoamerican pieces through art deco, and he was recognized not only for his philanthropy but for his discernment when it came to acquiring objects.

Highlights of the collection include a Maori figure with hair, one of only six known and representing the link to a Maori ancestor’s power (about 16 inches high; estimated at $2 million to $2.7 million); a god figure that would have made up the upper part of a staff, and which survived the zeal of the missionaries who destroyed most of these in the 1800s (about 19 inches high; estimated at $1.3 million to $2 million); and an uli memorial figure of a clan leader from New Ireland, part of Papua New Guinea (about 55 inches high; estimated at $950,000 to $1.3 million). (www.sothebys.com)

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