Frida Kahlo self-portrait expected to smash records at auction with $30 million sale

'Diego y yo' could become the most expensive painting sold by a Latin-American artist when it goes under the hammer in November

A Frida Kahlo self-portrait featuring her husband, artist Diego Rivera, is tipped to sell for more than $30 million at auction in New York, said Sotheby's.

Diego y yo (Diego and I), painted in 1949, "is poised to shatter" Kahlo's current auction record of $8m set in 2016, the auction house said on Wednesday.

The artwork, which will be the star lot of the November sale at Sotheby's, is also expected to smash the record for a painting by a Latin-American artist.

Los Rivales, a 1932 work by Rivera, is currently the most valuable – Christie's sold it for $9.8m in May 2018.

"Frida Kahlo's emotionally bare and complex portrait Diego y yo is a defining work," said Brooke Lampley, Sotheby's chairman and worldwide head of sales for global fine art.

"To offer this portrait in our Modern Evening Sale in November heralds the recent expansion of the Modern category to include greater representation of underrepresented artists, notably women artists, and rethink how they have historically been valued at auction."

Diego y yo is emblematic of Kahlo's self-portraits, known for their intense and enigmatic gaze that made the Mexican painter 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.

Anna di Stasi, Sotheby’s director of Latin-American art, said the work epitomised “the painstakingly detailed rendering, complex iconography and deeply personal narratives that are hallmarks of her mature painting".

Kahlo, who died aged 47 in 1954, and Rivera married each other twice.

Diego y yo was last sold at Sotheby's for $1.4m in 1990. The portrait will be on display in Hong Kong from Thursday October 7 to Monday, October to 11, and in London from Friday October 22 to Monday October to 25, before being taken to New York for sale.

Updated: September 23rd 2021, 6:37 AM