Yiull Damaso completed a highly controversial painting in 2010. 8 years later, it has now sold for nearly double the amount of the artist’s previous work.
“The Night Watch!” is a portrait featuring an autopsy on Nelson Mandela with key political figures observing in the background.
Also known as “Dead Mandela”, the work of art evoked strong reactions from the South African public.
This included racist allegations, political interference and even death threats.
It is based on a Rembrandt masterpiece named, "The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicolaes Tulp", which is set to undergo a restoration.
The painting shows the late HIV/ AIDS activist Nkosi Johnson conducting the autopsy, with important political figures such as Jacob Zuma, Helen Zille, Thabo Mbeki and Cyril Ramaphosa in the background.
In 2010, the ANC called for media to be regulated after images of the painting were depicted in the Mail & Guardian.
Spokesperson at the time, Jackson Mthembu, even linked the painting to witchcraft.
Yiull Damaso received multiple offers throughout the 8 years but eventually decided to part ways with it.
The R450 000 sale eclipses the previous highest sale of R250 000 for a different painting. The buyer remains anonymous but has assured Damaso that the work of art will be treasured and respected.
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