ed mandelaNelson Mandela’s sketch The Cell Door, Robben Island was sold for US$112,575 at the Bonhams Modern and Contemporary African Art sale.

The wax pastel crayon work that Mandela created in 2002 was the only work that the statesman kept for his personal collection. It had an estimate of US$60,000-90,000.

After his official retirement in 1999, the South Africa’s former president turned to art as a therapeutic activity that helped him express and reflect on his tumultuous life.

In 2002, he created 22 sketches about his 27 year-long incarceration, focusing on images he found symbolically and emotionally powerful.

Ten of these original drawings were then reproduced as editions of lithographs for the series My Robben Island (2002) and Reflections of Robben Island (2003). However, these sets did not include The Cell Door, which was considered to be a profoundly personal image and one that he wanted to keep for himself.

Giles Peppiatt, Bonhams director of modern and contemporary African Art, said, “This is the first time that a piece by Nelson Mandela has ever come to the auction market, and it resonated strongly with buyers. It was featured in a very strong auction which set six new world records as a New York debut for African Contemporary Art.”