In the top ten of bids, the ethnic arts by no means drag their heels. Whether we call them primitive or tribal arts, these treasures of Africa, America and Oceania sold at auction have fascinated collectors from André Breton to Pablo Picasso and from Pierre Vérité to Jacques Kerchache. In 2000, Kerchache was largely responsible for introducing works by these peoples considered "without writing or history" to the Louvre, foreshadowing the opening of the Musée du quai Branly in Paris.
"Masterpieces the world over are born free and equal," to quote the man who loved these magical objects from all over the globe: from Africa (Ivory Coast, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Angola, Burkina-Faso, Gabon, Madagascar, etc.), Oceania (Papua New Guinea, the Marquesas Islands, the Cook Islands, the Solomon Islands, New Zealand, Polynesia, etc.), the Americas (the Tainos of the Caribbean islands, the Inuits from the Gulf of Alaska) and Insulindia (Borneo, Indonesia).
While they acquired the rank of art works late on in their history, since 2000, the ethnic arts have certainly been adding fuel to the (sacred) fire in online auctions, with Dogon masks, Fang statues, Kota mbulu-ngulu reliquary figures, Maori pendants and Eskimo sculptures.