Dr. Maya Angelou’s Private Art Collection Expected to Sell for Millions in New York

Reported by Liku Zelleke

September 15 will be a special day for buyers looking to get their hands on the art collection of renowned author and poet Dr. Maya Angelou. On that day the Swann Auction Galleries in New York is expected to hold the auction for her private artifact sets.

The gallery’s African American fine art department will put her private collection – most of which has never been put on public display before – on offer. Many of the almost 50 pieces of art, such as the vivid story quilt by Faith Ringgold, were actually inspired by, and gifted to, Dr. Angelou.

Alexandra Nelson, Communications Director at Swann Auction Galleries, said in an interview that Dr. Angelou’s collection included some very important pieces.

She said, “Dr. Angelou had a real interest in African culture, and her collection reflects that. We’re the only auction house that focuses on this area so intensely. Because we have regular auctions, and because Dr. Angelou’s collection was of African American fine art, it was the right fit.”

Estimates suggest that the collection will be able to set new records in auction sales with the Quilt of Life, for example, which is expected to fetch somewhere between $150,000 to $250,000.

Swann’s director of the African American fine art department, Nigel Freeman, said that the specific piece was very dear to Dr. Angelou, who hung it in her home in Harlem.

Freeman said, “It encapsulates Dr. Angelou’s interest in art that’s a narrative about representations of women—often strong women like herself—and the artist.”

Other art pieces include a painting entitled “Kumasi Market” by artist John Biggers, an oil and acrylic on masonite board painted in 1962, which depicts both the artist’s and Dr. Angelou’s interests in African culture. It is estimated to fetchan amount in the range of $100,000 to $150,000.

The exhibition will be open to the public starting from September 8.

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