A Frida Kahlo painting sells for over one million dollars, but the big headline is where it was hidden for the past 60 years.
This week, a painting titled “Nina con Collar,” which translated into “Girl with Necklace,” went to the highest bidder during Sotheby’s Latin American art auction in New York City.
The piece of art, which was hidden from the public for more than 60 years, was purchased for $1.81 million. The buyer has chosen to remain anonymous.
The painting features a young girl aged 13 or 14 with black hair and thick unibrow like Kahlo. The teen is wearing an orange dress and a green cardigan, matching pearls, and big gold hoop earrings – a favorite of the painter.
There is a possibility that the painting might have been a self-portrait of the talented Mexican artist, who was only 22 years of age when she completed her masterpiece. The art, which is considered as one of Kahlo’s earliest works, was done in 1929.
The artist and her people kept the painting in her private collection until her death at the age of 47 in 1954. The painting had vanished after the passing of Kahlo that is until recently when a woman residing in Sunnyvale, California contacted Sotheby’s and revealed that she had the piece and wanted to sell it.
The woman, whose identity has not been revealed, explained that she worked as Kahlo’s assistant. After Kahlo’s passing, her widower, muralist Diego Rivera, gifted the painting to the woman.
The art expert moved to California and knew exactly what to do with the painting – she placed it in a dark room. Axel Stein, the head of Latin American art at Sotheby’s, said the painting was in perfect shape and shared:
“I was shocked to see how beautiful and warm the painting was when it finally surfaced. The blues are strikingly beautiful and intense. The vermilion is very, very sharp.”
“The colors still looked as if the painting was made yesterday because the owner had known to hang it in a dark room. The sun is the worst enemy of paintings. When she took it out it was beautifully preserved.”
In May, Christie’s sold the 1939 Kahlo painting “Two Nudes in the Forest” for $8 million. In a statement issued by Sotheby’s, it was revealed that Niña Con Collar garnered so much interest because it had real sentimental value to Kahlo.
Another reason, it is because “Mexico has barred the export of Kahlo’s works from the country for several decades in an attempt to conserve their cultural heritage.” Sotheby’s said:
“The painting would hold a particular meaning to her, as it became a point of departure on which she built various self-portraits over time. It is not unusual for an artist to keep a particular work, which she did…because it proved to be a spring well of ideas for works to come.”
Kahlo’s work is facing a new wave of popularity in the artistic world.