Mexican Tycoon’s Collection Breaks Record For Latin American Art Sale

The art collection of the late Mexican tycoon Lorenzo Zambrano was auctioned at Sotheby’s New York earlier in the week; the over-all result of which broke records for a Latin American art sale . “A Vision of Grandeur: Masterworks from the Collection of Lorenzo H. Zambrano” fetched $17.6 million or £11.1 million, breaking the record for a single owner sale of Latin American art.

Two other works by Leonora Carrington and Remedios Varo, were the most expensive works were by two key female artists of the Latin American avant-garde: both of which achieved new records. The Temptation of St. Anthony (1945), by the UK-born Mexican-naturalized Carrington, sold for $2.6 million or £1.6 million, with a presale estimate $1.8 to 2.2 million, or £1.1 to £1.3 million.

Hacia la Torre (1960) by the Spanish-born Mexican-naturalised Varo sold for $4.3 million or £2.7 million against a presale estimate of $2.5 to $3.5 million, or £1.5 to £2.2 million. El País reported that Varo’s painting had become the second most expensive artwork by a female Latin American artist ever sold at auction; after the most expensive, Frida Kahlo’s ‘Roots’ 1943, sold for $5.6 million or £3.5 million in 2006 at Sotheby’s New York.

But 6 works that were under the hammer failed to sell, with only 34 out of 40 lots sold. Diego Rivera’s monumental mural Río Juchitán (1950-57) failed to be bought at the auction. The highest bid for the work was a mere $4.9 million, or £3.1 million – well under the piece’s $6 million, or £3.8 million presale estimate. Rufino Tamayo’s Naturaleza Muerta (1935) also stayed failed to find a buyer with bidding stopping at $2.4 million, or £1.5 million.

The failure to sell these two key works was largely responsible for the total reaching $17.6 million, or £11.1 million just over half its $30 million, £19 million presale estimate.

“I feel very satisfied, given the current circumstances, it’s been a good sale. And I am positive that the Rivera mural will be sold in due course. The problem was its large size, too big for the clients we had last night,” Axel Stein, Sotheby’s head of department of Latin American Art and senior vice president, told El País.

The majority of art was purchased by collectors from the US, Mexico, Canada, UK, Venezuela, and Colombia. According to El País, some works by the likes of Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and José Clemente Orozco, are considered Mexican national heritage, so, in keeping with the country’s regulations, they had to be sold to Mexico-based collectors.

The business tycoon Lorenzo Zambrano was the president of Cemex, one of the largest concrete companies in the world. He died of heart attack last May, during a business trip in Madrid. The concrete tycoon had amassed a major 20th century Latin American art collection. The proceeds of which will go to Zambrano’s next of kin as he leaves no children, or a wife.

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