Billionaire Congolese collector Sindika Dokolo dies in diving accident, while under international investigation

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In an attempt to bridge the gap between the world and African contemporary art, Sindika Dokolo established a foundation in the early 2000s.
In an attempt to bridge the gap between the world and African contemporary art, Sindika Dokolo established a foundation in the early 2000s.
  • The Congolese art collector was married to Isabel dos Santos: Africa’s richest woman and the eldest daughter to Angola’s former president.
  • By his death Dikolo had built a collection with more than 3000 contemporary African art pieces.
  • He is survived by this wife and three children. 
  • Dokolo and his wife were being investigated for having accumulated their wealth through corrupt means.


Sindika Dokolo was an art collector and a businessman. He was married to Isabel dos Santos: Africa’s richest woman and the eldest daughter to Angola’s former president, José Eduardo dos Santos. Following a boat accident in Dubai, Dokolo died on 29 October 2020. He was 48. 

Born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Kinshasa, Dokolo was raised in Belgium and France by millionaire parents Augustin Dokolo and Hanne Kruse. 

Raised in a multimillionaire’s home, Dokolo first encountered art collecting through his father’s sizable assemblage. By the time he was 15 Dokolo started building his own collection. By his death Dikolo had built a collection with more than 3000 contemporary African art pieces. 

After studying in Paris, a 23 year-old Dokolo returned to the DRC in 1995 to work for the family business. Spanning banking, breeding, fishing, coffee exports, real estate, conveyance, printing, insurance and mining, the family business was made up of a total sum of 17 companies. He then fled to Angola in 2000 to flee the war in Congo. 

In an attempt to bridge the gap between the world and African contemporary art, Dokolo established the Sindika Dokolo Foundation in the early 2000s. Through an arts centre in Angola’s capital, Luanda, the foundation promoted African contemporary art by displaying parts of his collection in addition to freel lending some of its pieces to international museums that agreed to perceive the art from the perspective of Africans. 

The added value of the contemporary African art scene is to give a sensible and intelligent perspective of a continent that is constantly on the move.
Sindika Dokolo for Jornal de Negócios newspaper

The foundation’s existence led to a number of fairs and exhibitions around contemporary African art including:

  • SD Observatorio at the Valencia Institute of Modern Art (2006) 
  • Trienal de Luanda (2007) 
  • Check List Luanda Pop at the 52nd Venice Biennale (2007) 
  • Luanda Suave e Frenética (2010)

In addition to collecting art, Dikolo also developed a keen interest in recovering works that were stolen from the continent during colonial rule from 2015. In February of 2016, while his father in law was still president of Angola, Sindika Dokolo Foundation handed over two masks and a statuette of the Chokwe people to the head of the state. 

In October 2019 the foundation bought back 20 pieces of art that had been taken from Angolan museums in addition to recovering its first Congolese artwork from a European museum. Speaking on his incessant need to return African art to the continent, he was quoted saying: 

We have a heritage to circulate around the world that left Angola in a completely illegal way. I decided to make it my next workhorse.

While his contributions to the continental artscape were considered notable, shortly before his death, Dokolo and his wife were being investigated for having accumulated their wealth through corrupt means. Both him and his wife denied the allegations. 

He is survived by this wife and three children. 

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