collector spectre

‘Adventurous’ art dealer Hélène Leloup’s bargains in Dogon country

in depth

This article is part of the dossier:

Who owns Mali’s Dogon cultural heritage?

By Nicolas Michel

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Posted on June 20, 2023 11:53

Meet Hélène Leloup, a “pioneer” of African art, according to her devotees, who manages to wear the hats of both art dealer and curator. Her collection will be auctioned at a sale organised by her daughter, Marie-Victoire Leloup, at Sotheby’s in Paris on 21 June.


Hélène Leloup was the proud owner of a Dogon statuette, a major work recently donated to the Musée du Quai Branly and exhibited in the Pavillon des Sessions at the Musée du Louvre. Its price is estimated at several million euros. Many other works from the same collection will be sold at Sotheby’s on 21 June.

Exhibition curator, dealer, museum director… Hélène Leloup’s profile is a perfect illustration of the mix of genres and conflicts of interest at work in the market for classical African art.

Marcel Griaule, the French ethnologist who crossed Africa from West to East, bringing back some 3,500 objects, needs no introduction. On the other hand, few people are familiar with art dealer Hélène Leloup. Her devotees who mention her here and there in the press aren’t about to shed any light on her career, as if this “grande dame”

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