Frida Kahlo painting sells for a record $35 million in New York auction

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A 1949 painting by Frida Kahlo sold for $34.9 million on Tuesday night at Sotheby’s New York, setting a record for the artist at auction.

The work, titled Diego y yo (Diego and I) carried a presale estimate of $30 million to $50 million and was guaranteed by a third party, meaning the auction house had lined up a buyer willing to pay a minimum amount before the sale even began.

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Given those pre-sale arrangements, there was never a doubt, as bidding started, that the work would easily clear Kahlo’s previous record at auction, set in 2016 when a 1939 painting of two women on the edge of a jungle sold for $8 million at Christie’s in New York.

Kahlo, who died in 1954, is one of the world’s most famous, least-prolific artists.

She only made about 140 paintings, according to her catalogue raisonné, making Diego y yo a rare opportunity for collectors to acquire her work.

The buyer of the painting was the Eduardo F. Costantini Collection. Costantini is an Argentinian real estate developer who founded the Latin American Art Museum of Buenos Aires, or Malba, in 2001. According to Sotheby’s, the painting is for his private collection.

Diego y yo, which is just under a foot high, had been out of the public eye for more than 30 years; it last came to at auction in 1990, when it sold for $1.43 million at Sotheby’s New York.

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