One of iconic Mexican painter Frida Kahlo’s final self-portraits sold for nearly $35 million on Tuesday, Sotheby’s said, setting a new record for Latin American artwork.
“Diego y yo” depicts Kahlo and her husband and artist Diego Rivera — the last “great” self-portrait before her death in 1954, the New York-based auction house said. It was acquired for $34.9 million by Eduardo F. Constantini, an Argentina-based collector and founder of the Latin American Art Museum of Buenos Aires, Sotheby’s said.
“Frida Kahlo’s status as a global cultural icon is indisputable, and tonight’s outstanding result further secures her place in the auction echelon she belongs, as one of the true titans of 20th century art,” Sotheby’s senior vice president Julian Dawes said after the painting sold Tuesday.
In the painting, a depiction of Rivera is cast on Frida’s forehead and three tears were painted underneath her eyes. The artwork – which Sotheby’s estimated would fetch more than $30 million before the auction – was dated 1949, about a year after Rivera’s affair with Mexican film star Maria Felix.
“This completely destroys her,” Sotheby’s director of Latin American art Anna Di Stasi said. “She has such a powerful gaze. She just stares at you and she just cuts through. And those three tears rolling down her cheek are the most powerful tears I’ve seen in the history of art.”
Frida’s piece is now the most expensive artwork by a Latin American artist, surpassing Rivera, whose “The Rivals” painting sold for $9.8 million at a Christie’s auction in 2018.
The sale also smashes a previous public auction record for Kahlo’s work. Another of her pieces, “Two Nudes in the Forest (The Earth Itself)” sold for $8 million five years ago, according to Sotheby’s.