NEW YORK – Mexican artist Frida Kahlo’s “Portrait of a Lady in White” fetched on Wednesday the highest price of $5.8 million at an auction of Latin American art at Christie’s in New York.
During the two-day auction, which concludes Thursday, another of Kahlo’s works, “The Flower Basket” (1941), fetched the second-highest price of $3.1 million.
In the session, which lasted just over an hour and a half, 63 pieces were auctioned and most of them were within the price range estimated by Christie’s, although some exceeded these and even created records, with “Portrait of a Lady in White” (1929) becoming the most expensive oil painting by the artist. The painting was estimated to go for $3-5 million.
The celebrated painting, which had never been auctioned previously, has been the object of interest among art lovers because it corresponds to a stage of Kahlo’s life where she began to define herself as an artist and married fellow artist Diego Rivera. Moreover, there exist different versions regarding the identity of those portrayed.
“The Flower Basket” shows Kahlo’s professional consolidation, given that it was commissioned by the government of Mexico, and preceded her deteriorating physical condition that would slowly incapacitate her. In fact, it was acquired by Hollywood actress Paulette Goddard, who was Rivera’s lover and who married English actor Charlie Chaplin.
A 1935 painting by Rivera – “Vendedora de flores en Tehuantepec” (Flower Seller in Tehuantepec) – also sold at the auction for $325,000.