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Country of Origin: Cameroon
Museum: Owned by The Dapper Foundation, Paris; displayed at various museums

“The “Bangwa Queen,” a sculpture from Cameroon’s Grassfields region, has generated renown in the U.S. and Europe for its decorated provenance—it once was held by the collector Helena Rubinstein. The sculpture had famously been photographed by Man Ray, and it has figured in shows at MoMA, the Met, and various other institutions.

More recently, it has made headlines because the Bangwa people have begun seeking its return, fearing that it might head to auction once more. The Dapper Foundation, which closed its Paris museum in 2017, said in 2018 that it will continue to appear in exhibitions around the world.” – ARTnews

“The Dapper Foundation in Paris, France now owns the Bangwa Queen sculpture – and it was on display at the Musée Dapper until 2017 when the museum that focused on African art closed because of low attendence and high maintenance costs. Traditional leaders of the Bangwa have been corresponding with the foundation, requesting its return to Cameroon. Authors of the report commissioned by President Macron, Senegalese writer and economist Felwine Sarr and French Historian Bénédicte Savoy, have recommended that French law is changed to allow the return of the African art.” – The Heist

In 1990, the wooden sculpture sold at a Sotheby’s auction for a record-breaking $3.4 million, making it the world’s most expensively priced African artwork at the time.


12 January 2018: “The Dapper Foundation in Paris is stalling requests for dialogue with the Cameroonian claimants of a sacred sculpture that was acquired by a German colonial agent more than 100 years ago, according to a lawyer representing the Bangwa people of Cameroon.

The discussion over African heritage in French museums has gained new urgency after President Emmanuel Macron pledged “a temporary or definitive restitution of African heritage to Africa” over the next five years.” – The Art Newspaper