Late Benedict Chukwukadibia Enwonwus "Tutu" painting has sold for over $1.6 million (N577,600,000).

Ben Enwonwu's famous painting that went missing for decades before turning up in a London apartment smashed sale estimates at an auction in London on Wednesday, February 28, 2018.

Smashing Estimates

Depicting the Ife princess Adetutu Ademiluyi (abbreviated as "Tutu"), the painting was subsequently authenticated and went under the hammer as part of Bonhams' "Africa Now" sale. The London auction house initially predicted a price tag of between £200,000 and £300,000 ($275,000 to $413,000), less than a quarter of the final bid.

Son of the celebrated sculptor and painter, Oliver Enwonwu, told BBC, "I'm absolutely delighted and very proud of my father," after his dad's masterpiece sold for more than $1.4m at auction.

Inspiration Behind Tutu

Late Prof. Benedict Chukwukadibia Enwonwu painted three portraits of a Yoruba princess, Adetutu Ademiluyi in the early 70s. According to Bonhams, "Tutu" was painted after Enwonwu encountered the princess walking in the Nigerian countryside. The artist created two other pictures of Ademiluyi, both of which remain missing.

His work became a symbol of national reconciliation in Nigeria a few years after the end of the Biafra civil war.

The paintings grew in fame not only for their beauty but for the mystery surrounding their disappearance.

"Tutu" was among 20 Enwonwu artworks made available at the Bonham's sale too. His paintings "Negritude" and "The Female Form" sold for £100,000 and £110,000.