Argentine businessman Eduardo Costantini is happy about the repercussion of having been the buyer of the self-portrait of Frida Kahlo that last Tuesday became the most expensive work of a Latin American artist in history sold at auction, reaching 34.9 million dollars: “I always defended her. Frida is here to stay in art history, ”he told Efe.
Kahlo’s “Diego y yo” self-portrait broke several records at the Sotheby’s auction in New York, quadrupling the previous record high of the Mexican painter herself of 8 million dollars achieved in 2016 and also surpassing that of a Latin American artist , which was supported precisely by her husband, Diego Rivera.
“More than the record, it is the emotion of being able to have acquired such an important work,” said Costantini, from Uruguay, and recalled that other times he had bought very important works at more accessible values.
For Costantini, this acquisition was about “a double phenomenon” because “Latin American art has valued everything” and “Frida was given the valorization of Latin American art”, but she pointed out that she “is a phenomenon that transcends Latin American art because it is a phenomenon of global art ”.
“Besides it is very loved by the public,” he stressed.
The 12-inch high and 9-inch wide work is a close-up self-portrait of Kahlo that was completed in 1949, a few years before her death.
The piece symbolizes the tempestuous relationship between Kahlo and Rivera, which appears drawn on the Mexican woman’s forehead and who in turn has a third eye, an element with which she tries to represent the continuous presence of her husband in her mind.
The last time it went up for auction, in 1990, this self-portrait had already set a milestone by selling for $ 1.4 million, marking the first time that a million-dollar bid for an artist’s work was exceeded. Latin American.
This time, Costantini considered that the “work is valued at a forced, high value” and recalled that he and another buyer were at the auction “who thank God did not want to bid.”
Costantini, a renowned art collector and founder of the Museum of Latin American Art of Buenos Aires (Malba), bought “Diego y yo” for his private collection.
In 1995 he had bought “Self-portrait with monkey and parrot”, by Kahlo, which today has the Malba, for 3.2 million dollars, which was a record for seven years.
The collector said that “he was looking for” the Mexican’s work and “what he most wanted” was “a dramatic work of hers.” He explained that in “Diego and I” he has “a double portrait” and pointed out that “there are two works by Frida where Diego and Frida are.”
She has defended Kahlo before one of the directors of Malba: “Frida is here to stay in art history” because “she is a unique artist, she is one of the great masters of Latin American art and art in general.”
Costantini – founder and leader of the real estate developer Consultatio and Consultatio Asset Management – began buying works of art in 1970.
20 years ago he founded the Malba, to which he donated some 220 works and where today he makes the works of his private collection available. The museum, which has its own acquisition program, today has some 700 works.
In parallel, Costantini has continued with the personal program of acquisition of works, and his collection today has about 500 pieces including the collection of photographs.
“My criteria, learned from my teacher Ricardo Esteves, is always to buy the best works by the best artists. Do not buy a lot, buy good, “he said.
“If you take the Malba and add the private collection, you have works that split the earth,” he was excited.
He foresaw that “without a doubt the first loan” from “Diego and I” will be to Malba, in 2022, but he pointed out that he still has to evaluate how to exhibit it because “lately” he has had “the opportunity to buy important pieces” that never were exhibited in the museum.
With the acquisition of “Diego y yo”, he considered that “it is a party” that Malba is mentioned and warned that for Argentina “it is good news”, because “there is an institution that continues to bet on Latin American art regardless of what it happens politically ”.
As a collector, he considered that this acquisition “promotes” him and “is one more piece that is added to a set, synergizes and strengthens” following the idea of ”a selection of great Latin American works that will help each other.”
“The art world clearly sees a presence and a consistency that is more than four decades old,” he said.
He considered that there are other collectors in Argentina, but that they do not have the “public mode” that he has chosen to follow. “In collecting, I see a public, social, educational diagonal. I play at that, “he said.