Scroll To Top

Frida Kahlo's 'Diego and I' Smashes Record for Latin American Art

Assistant holding the artwork "Diego and I"
Via Getty Images

The queer icon's self-portrait became the most expensive piece of artwork by a Latin American artist, surpassing the record held by her husband, Diego Rivera. 


Queer Mexican artist Frida Kahlo's work "Diego and I" sold for $34.9 million at Sotheby's auction on Tuesday, setting a record for the most expensive artwork by a Latin American artist.

The oil painting was completed five years before she died. It was one of Kahlo's last self-portraits, according to The New York Times. The paper notes that "Diego and I" -- or, "Diego y yo," in Spanish -- provides a glimpse into Kahlo's troubled marriage with the Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. He is shown in the portrait as part of her forehead, above Kahlo's weeping eyes.

"This is an important late work from a period where her physical suffering had intensified and her painting became erratic," Adriana Zavala, a curator of a Kahlo exhibition at the New York Botanical Garden in 2015, told the paper. "She looks less polished and poised."

Kahlo's new record beat the previous benchmark by Rivera. One of his paintings sold for $9.76 million in 2018.

The buyer of "Diego and I" was the founder of a museum in Buenos Aires, Eduardo Costantini, a Sotheby's spokesperson told the Times. The painting was bought for his private collection.

The spokesperson did not tell the paper who the seller was.

A large sale had already been promised due to early interest in the work.

"It's a museum-quality piece," Brooke Lampley, Sotheby's chair and worldwide head of global fine art sales said. She added that while cultural institutions had been interested in the artwork, private collectors were also very interested. "Frida is now on the wish list of collectors who collect great masterpieces of modern art."

"Diego and I" was previously sold at Sotheby's in 1990. Then, it became the first Latin American artwork to sell for more than $1 million.

"Frida is becoming one of the most popular artists in the world," said Gregorio Luke, former director of the Museum of Latin American Art in California. He said laws in Mexico laws prohibit the sale of many 19th- and 20th-century artists, like Kahlo, from within the country.

"So the price is the result of massive pent-up interest in the artist and very little inventory," he told the Times. "There are probably less than 20 to 30 paintings of hers on the market."

"In terms of gender politics, this is a good thing," Jorge Daniel Veneciano, senior curator at the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art in Los Angeles said. "Now we might say that Diego Rivera is the husband of Frida Kahlo, because she is outshining him."

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff & Wayne Brady

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories