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Iconic Nigerian painting found in London after 44 years

FOUND: The painting by Nigerian artist Ben Enwonwu was missing for 44 years (Photo credit: Bonhams)

A MISSING Nigerian painting has been found in a ‘modest north London flat’.

The masterpiece called ‘Tutu’, a portrait of princess Adetutu Ademiluyi - the granddaughter of a Yoruba ruler - was painted by Nigeria’s best known modern artist Ben Enwonwu in 1974.

The work of art serves as special significance in Nigeria as a symbol of national reconciliation after the Biafran War of 1967 to 1970.

It appeared at an art show in Lagos in 1975, but vanished for 44 years and remained a mystery - until now.

PICTURED: Nigerian author Ben Okri poses ‘Tutu’ (Photo credit: AFP/Getty Images)

"It was his greatest masterpiece, and people have been asking “where is Tutu?” – so to have this image turn up is extraordinary," said Giles Peppiatt, an expert in modern and contemporary African art at Bonhams auction house.

Peppiatt said he had been sent on several wild goose chases in the past in search of the painting, so he was shocked to find the original hanging in a home in London.

Oliver Enwonwu, the artist’s son, commented: ‘This is a very significant discovery, given my father’s contribution to Nigerian art and African art more broadly.’

he painting will be sold on February 28 at an auction in Bonhams, with an estimated price of £200,000 to £300,000.

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