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Sotheby's to launch dedicated sales of African modern and contemporary art in London
Hannah O’Leary, Head of Modern and Contemporary African Art at Sotheby’s. Photo: Sotheby's.

LONDON.- Sotheby’s will launch dedicated sales of Modern and Contemporary African Art in London next year, led by Hannah O’Leary, Sotheby’s newly-appointed Head of Modern and Contemporary African Art.

With over a decade of experience, Hannah has played an instrumental role in developing the markets for both Contemporary African Art and the more traditional area of South African Art, setting new benchmarks and helping raise the international profile of this rapidly evolving field.

Maarten Ten Holder, Managing Director, Sotheby’s Europe: “Hannah O’Leary brings with her a wealth of experience in this vibrant and fascinating area of the market. Her career to date has been characterised by bold endeavour and outstanding achievement, and we are delighted that she will now lead our new initiative. The African art scene is thriving, and as our sales develop in 2017, we anticipate that we will establish a significant profile in this field, while also looking to enhance our presence on the African continent.”

Hannah O’Leary, Head of Modern and Contemporary African Art at Sotheby’s: “I’m delighted to join Sotheby’s, and look forward to embracing the enhanced possibilities and opportunities that come with being part of the team here. Sotheby’s auctions, starting next year, will provide an unprecedented platform for Modern and Contemporary African Art. There’s enormous untapped potential in this market, and together we are perfectly poised to explore it to the full.”

Having completed a Master’s degree in History of Art with Cultural Anthropology, Hannah O’Leary first joined Sotheby’s in 2005, initially working in the Dublin and Melbourne offices. In 2006 she joined Bonhams in London, where she helped pioneer the first international auctions of South African Art (in 2007) and Modern & Contemporary African Art (2009), becoming Head of Department in 2010. Her first auction as head of department, the South African Sale in March 2011, totalled over £8.7million and remains the highest grossing sale of South African Art ever to have been held worldwide. Hannah was also instrumental in obtaining world record prices for all major African artists, including Irma Stern, Vladimir Tretchikoff, J.H. Pierneef, Alexis Preller, Gerard Sekoto, El Anatsui, Ben Enwonwu and Yusuf Grillo.

Hannah maintains close relationships with private collectors and public institutions alike, often advising on their collections and assisting with private sales and exhibition loans, most recently as international consultant to the South African National Gallery and contributing author to the Irma Stern retrospective catalogue ‘Brushing Up on Stern’ (Cape Town, 2015).

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