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Sotheby's Latin American Art Sale totals $19.3 million, six artist records set
"Nada" by artist Matta is on display during a press preview for Latin American Art sales at Sotheby's in New York on November 16, 2012. AFP PHOTO/Emmanuel DUNAND.

NEW YORK, NY.- Yesterday’s evening session of Latin American Art at Sotheby’s brought a strong total of $19,275,250, nearly reaching the high estimate (est. $16.2/19.8 million*) and with 89% of lots sold. The sale was led by Matta’s Nada, which sold for $1,818,500, well within estimate (est. $1.5/2 million). Six new artist records were achieved tonight for Claudio Bravo, Dr. Atl, Jesús Rafael Soto, Gego, Guiseppe Leone Righini, and Pietro Gualdi in addition to a the highest price for a piece of Latin American colonial art at auction. The auction continues tomorrow morning at 10 am.

Axel Stein, Director of Latin American Art at Sotheby’s commented: “Our strong sell through rate in this evening’s sale demonstrates the demand for Latin American art across all periods and mediums. We set six artist records ranging from a 17th century colonial portrait, to mid-century Venezuelan Jesús Rafael Soto to Contemporary artist Claudio Bravo, among others. Our total of $19.3 million was among the highest for a Latin American Art Evening Sale at Sotheby’s. The great result for Nada by Matta reinforces the continuing appeal of the Chilean master, while Surrealist works by Wifredo Lam and Remedios Varo also achieved strong prices. I was also delighted to once again see stiff competition for Latin American Abstraction, which showed that demand for these artists continues to grow, along with important Mexican National Patrimony paintings that were viewed and competed for fiercely by collectors in Mexico.”

In addition to Nada two additional works by Matta also brought strong prices this evening - Les Vitamerdres de L’Space sold for $302,500 (est. $200/300,000) and Fidele à la terre (Composition 80F) achieved $218,500 (est. $125/175,000). Other Surrealist highlights of the evening included Wifredo Lam’s, Charbon de Mer, a rare and dynamic, blue and white composition from 1945, which sold for $542,500 (est. $400/600,000) and Remedios Varo’s Retrato de los niños Andrea y Lorenzo Villaseñor from 1956, which had never appeared at auction and sold for $518,500 ($200/300,000).

Continuing a trend witnessed over the course of the past few seasons, Latin American Abstraction inspirited considerable competition this evening. All four works by Jesús Rafael Soto sold for a total of $2,038,000, exceeding expectations (est. $1.4/1.8 million). Chief among the works on offer was La Scie a Metaux, which set a new record for the artist at auction with a price of $1,082,500, also above the high estimate ($700/900,000). Gego’s 1971 construction Reticulárea Cuadrada sold for $638,500 (est. $500/700,000) to set a new record for the artist at auction. It has been in a private collection in Caracas since it was acquired directly from Gego after completion.

Works from Mexico were also in demand with a new record set for Dr. Atl when his Mañana luminosa from 1942 sold for $1,650,500, more than five times the previous record for the artist at auction (est. $1.5/2 million). The 17th century Portrait of Moctezuma II, one of the most important pieces of Mexican colonial art to appear at auction also brought $1,650,000 after competition from two determined bidders to set a record for a piece of Latin American colonial art at auction.

Claudio Bravo’s Angelis was also among the top ten works sold this evening, achieving a price of $1,510,500, a new record for the artist at auction (est. $900,000/1.2 million), while Gatos con pesadillas by Francisco Toledo, the most important living Mexican artist, sold for $602,500 (est. $500/700,000).

New Artist Records
• Claudio Bravo: Lot 11, Angelis, $1,510,500

• Guiseppe Leone Righini: Lot 13, A Panoramic View of The Bay of Belém do Pará, Brazil $302,500

• Dr. Atl: Lot 14, Mañana luminosa, $1,650,500

• Pietro Gualdi: Lot 15, Hacienda Nueva de Fresnillo con el Cerro de Proaño, Zacatecas Mexico, $266,500

• Gego: Lot 32 Reticulárea Cuadrada, $638,500

• Jesús Rafael Soto: Lot 33, La Scie a Metaux, $1,082,500

New Records by Medium
• Mario Carreño, for a work on paper: Lot 1, Cuarto Fambá, $86,500

*Estimates do not include buyer’s premium

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