Johannesburg - A photographic portrait of former president Nelson Mandela has been sold for a record R2 million, the charity 21 Icons SA Africa said on Tuesday.
The money raised would be donated to the Nelson Mandela Children's Hospital and the World Wildlife Fund.
The Mandela portrait was sold to a New York private art collector, who did not want to be named. The price was the highest ever fetched for a South African photograph.
“The portrait, by Adrian Steirn, depicts Nelson Mandela’s face reflected in a mirror and was the first of 21 signed portraits of iconic South Africans to be unveiled during the debut season of this three-year project.”
Photographer Steirn said Mandela's pose in the portrait was intended to convey the 95-year-old former statesman reflecting on his life journey.
“As he reflects on his life, we reflect on his legacy and our future,” he said in a statement.
Portraits of retired Anglican archbishop Desmond Tutu and former president FW De Klerk would be auctioned at an event in March 2014. The proceeds from these sales would be donated to charities chosen by those depicted in the portraits.
The art collector who bought the Mandela picture said: “In a single frame the photographer has captured the essence of dignity, principle, conviction and courage in this great man...”
The Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital is being built in Johannesburg and is expected to open late next year.
Mandela's granddaughter Swati Dlamini said: “To see this beautiful and moving portrait of our father and grandfather, (raise) such a significant sum for causes dear to him is heart-warming for our family”.
Earlier this year, Mandela spent almost three months in hospital for a recurring lung infection before being discharged on September 1 to continue receiving treatment at his home in Houghton.