The government of Senegal has successfully reached a “friendly agreement” with an auction house to purchase the precious belongings of its first president, Leopold Sedar Senghor, and his wife. The collection includes a range of valuable items such as jewelry, military medals, diplomatic gifts, and even gold fountain pens. The auctioneer had initially planned to carry out a bidding process for the collection in Caen, northwestern France. However, after the Senegalese state intervened and requested to negotiate with the current owner directly, the auctioneer decided to delay the bidding process.
The organizers had announced that they would proceed with the auction in December if an agreement could not be reached. However, on Monday, Senegal’s culture ministry revealed that they had spent $260,000 on striking a deal to acquire the items. The auctioneer, Jean Rivola clarified that the lots were not put up for auction and they immediately contacted both the Senegalese government and the rightful heir of these objects. After a friendly and quick negotiation, an agreement was reached that was acceptable to all parties. This allowed for a global sale of the entire collection to the Senegalese state.
Leopold Sedar Senghor, Senegal’s first president
Senegal’s first president, Leopold Sedar Senghor, was a prominent poet, writer, and professor before he took office and was in power from 1960 to 1980. He championed the anti-colonial “Negritude” movement in the 1930s and fought for France during World War II, becoming the first African to be admitted to the prestigious Academie Francaise. Recently, Senegal expressed interest in purchasing 41 items, including an 18-carat gold Order of the Nile necklace, received by Senghor in 1967 after delivering a speech at Cairo University. The country wished to preserve Senghor’s memory and heritage, and President Macky Sall urged the culture minister and the Senegalese embassy in Paris to hold “appropriate discussions” with the auctioneer to strike a deal.
“The operation cost 244,000 euros,” the Senegalese ministry said, adding it had reached a “friendly agreement”.
“The mediation went very well… All the lots in this sale have been amicably transferred to Senegal by mutual agreement. All parties were pleased with the purchase, “said auctioneer Solene Laine, who did not disclose the price. Senghor resided in Verson near Caen after marrying Normandy native Colette Hubert. He passed away there at the age of 95 in 2001.