Frida Kahlo’s 1949 self-portrait, titled Diego y yo sells for almost A$50 million at auction | Source: Sothebys

Frida Kahlo Self-Portrait Sells for Nearly A$50m at Sotheby’s

Frida Kahlo’s 1949 self-portrait, titled Diego y yo (Diego and I), the last completed before her death, sells for just over A$48 million at Sotheby’s.

Frida Kahlo’s status as a global cultural icon is indisputable, and tonight’s outstanding result further secures her place in the auction echelon she belongs, as one of the true titans of 20th century art.

Julian Dawes, Sotheby’s Co-head of Impressionist & Modern Art in New York
Frida Kahlo’s 1949 self-portrait, titled Diego y yo
Frida Kahlo Self-Portrait Diego y yo | Source: Sotheby’s

The historic work by the renowned artist was one of the star exhibits of the ‘Modern Evening Auction’ in New York alongside pieces by Claude Monet and Salvador Dali. The sale, totalling over A$390 million, comes on the back of the A$918 million Sotheby sale of The Macklowe Collection.

The Mexican artist’s piece is the most valuable work of Latin American art ever sold at auction. It shattered her previous record of just over A$11 million for her 1939 painting, Two Nudes in the Forest (The land itself), selling at Christie’s in 2016.

Frida Kahlo Two Nudes in the Forest (The land itself)
Frida Kahlo’s Two Nudes in the Forest (The land itself) | Source: Christie’s

It’s not the first time the Diego y yo painting has broken records. Previously held in a private collection for 30 years, the last time the painting was sold in 1990 at Sotheby’s for A$1.9 million, Kahlo became the first Latin American artist to surpass the $1 million mark at auction.

Known for her expressive style, her works are characterised by autobiographical elements mixed with realism and fantasy. In Diego y yo, the painting depicts Kahlo gazing tearfully at the viewer with her husband Diego Rivera on her forehead who also has a third eye. It’s said to represent Kahlo’s troubled relationship with Rivera and express her sadness over his affair with her friend.

Created in 1949, Kahlo was both at her most talented but also at the start of her health decline, 20 years after she first married Rivera.

If you’re interested in the art world, find out about the generation-defining modern artists or to see more from Sotheby’s, take a look inside Sotheby’s Luxury Week.

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