Frida Kahlo self-portrait sells for record $47m

That made it the most expensive Latin American work of art sold at auction. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

NEW YORK (AFP/BLOOMBERG) - A rare painting by Frida Kahlo sold in a New York auction house Tuesday for US$34.9 million (S$47 million), a record price for a work by the iconic Mexican artist.

As expected, the self-portrait of Kahlo entitled Diego Y Yo (Diego And Me, 1949), where the face of the painter's husband Diego Rivera appears on her forehead, smashed the former record of US$8 million set by a Kahlo in 2016.

That made it the most expensive Latin American work of art sold at auction. The previous record was for a painting by Diego Rivera himself, whose work Los Rivales (1931) sold for US$9.76 million in 2018.

Kahlo, who died in 1954 aged just 47, is one of the world's most famous, least prolific artists. She only made about 140 paintings, making Diego Y Yo a rare opportunity for collectors to acquire her work.

It is emblematic of her self-portraits, known for their intense and enigmatic gaze that made Kahlo, a feminist icon, famous around the world.

In the painting, Rivera's face appears on Kahlo's forehead, above her distinctive eyebrows and dark eyes from which a few teardrops fall. The depiction of Rivera, who at the time was close to Mexican actress Maria Felix, as a third eye symbolises the extent to which he tormented her thoughts, art experts say.

Kahlo and Rivera married each other twice.

Diego Y Yo had been out of the public eye for more than 30 years. It last sold at Sotheby's for US$1.4 million in 1990.

Join ST's Telegram channel here and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.