Diego Rivera’s works led Christie’s Latin American art sale

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Hombre feliz, oil on canvas

Courtesy of Christie’s

Diego Rivera, widely considered one of the greatest Mexican painters and whose painting The rivals set a world record price in May for any Latin American artist, continued to attract interest from collectors around the world at Christie’s Latin American Art Sale this week.

by Rivera Communards (Comuna de Paris), sold on Wednesday for $492,500, almost five times its initial estimate of between $100,000 and $150,000. Proceeds from that sale were donated to Art for Access at Bennington College, according to Christie’s.

The 1935 painting Boy with Hat made US$37,500, more than double its presale high estimate of US$180,000.

Five other works on paper by Rivera (1886-1957), who was best known for his murals on public buildings in Mexico and the United States, all sold at or near high estimates.

The most expensive painting sold, however, was feliz man, painted in 1947 by Rufino Tamayo (1899-1991). Depicting a shadowy figure with a bright yellow and orange glow formulated by the piercing rays of the sun, the painting sold for US$2.2 million, with active bidding across all sales channels – in the room, online and by phone – with strong global attendance, according to Christie’s.

The Latin American Art Sale live auction took place in New York on Wednesday, but the online auction continues through November 28. Christie’s did not respond to requests for comment.

In May, Rivera’s painting The rivals fetched $9.8 million at an auction by Christie’s of David and Peggy Rockefeller’s collection. This was the highest price obtained for the artist and for all Latin American artists at auction.

As Latin American arts increasingly slip under the radar of collectors around the world, Christie’s and Sotheby’s, two of the world’s largest auction houses, have incorporated them into their main sales. While Christie’s Latin American art sale goes hand in hand with its American art sale, Sotheby’s incorporated contemporary Latin American art into its contemporary art sales last November, and began integrating modern Latin American art at its Impressionist and Modern Art sales in May.

And Christie’s Latin American art sale this week set five records for artists including Nicolás Enríquez, José Chávez Morado, Francisco Toledo, Roberto Fabelo and Carlos Cancio.

Laura J. Boyer