Mexican artist Frida Kahlo is famous for breaking barriers during her lifetime. She became a famous female painter that rivaled her husband and fellow creative Diego Rivera in a time when women artists struggled to receive the same amount of appreciation. Over 6o years after her death, the feminist icon continues to leave her mark on the art world. Kahlo's self-portrait painting Diego y yo (Diego and I) sold for $34.9 million at Sotheby's Modern Evening Sale on November 19, 2021—making it the most expensive piece of Latin American art.
The painting was completed in 1949, during the mature years of Kahlo's career. It features a portrait of the artist staring unwaveringly at the viewer as she cries, with an image of a three-eyed Rivera at the center of her forehead. The work was kept in a private collection for 30 years prior to the sale.
While a Kahlo painting sold for $8 million in 2016, this piece was estimated to go for at least $30 million. The auction itself took place between just two bidders with the winner, Eduardo F. Constantini, coming out on top at nearly $35 million. As the founder of Malba, Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires, he intends to make the masterpiece a part of the permanent collection.
“Tonight's outstanding result further secures [Frida Kahlo's] place in the auction echelon she belongs, as one of the true titans of 20th-century art,” says Julian Dawes, Sotheby's co-head of Impressionist and modern art in New York. Not only does the sale make Diego y yo the most expensive piece of Latin American art (surpassing Diego Rivera's $9.76 million painting The Rivals), but it is also the highest price ever paid for a painting by Kahlo herself.