Politics and policy
Gallery Watatu opens art sale to settle debt
Posted Thursday, June 28 2012 at 22:29
Gallery Watatu, one of Kenya’s oldest art collectors, is set to sell its artworks on Friday to help meet its financial obligations.
Gallery Watatu managing director Kofi Asei said the sale targets to raise Sh5 million, adding that the firm’s cashflow was hit by the economic crunch in Europe and the US where most of its buyers are based.
“We are looking to raise at least Sh5 million from the sale, but if we get Sh100 million we will be more than happy,” said Mr Asei.
The pieces are priced at between Sh500 and Sh2 million each.
On display during the ten-day sale will be over 1,000 items by artists from eastern and southern Africa dating back 45 years when the gallery began.
Mr Asei said that besides rent arrears, the art collector had other debts which the gallery hoped to settle from the proceeds.
The money will also be used to pay for the lease of the first floor space on Lonrho House in Nairobi’s central business district where the gallery is situated.
Managers at Lonrho House had called in auctioneers to sell off the works in a bid to recover Sh1.3 million in rent arrears owed to them. After today’s sale, Mr Asei said, the gallery would focus more on African markets.
“We have opted to shift our market to Africa as we grow the love of art among locals. We have people in Kenya who love art and will support us by buying the pieces,” he said.
The gallery has been facing financial difficulties since the death of the owner, Ms Ruth Schaffne, in 1996.