Guernica-like Mexican mural sells for $6.8 million

Wed Nov 19, 2008 12:14pm EST
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By Walker Simon

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A giant Mexican mural with sprawling elongated figures reminiscent of Pablo Picasso's Guernica" fetched $6.8 million in a sale of Latin American art that fared comparatively well in a tough economic climate.

Spanning 45 feet in length, the mural, "America," by Rufino Tamayo, sold in frenetic bidding which included several art museums, Sotheby's said.

Total sales of Latin American art at the auction house reached $16.8 million on Tuesday night.

"In these rocky times, we're absolutely delighted that there was very fierce competition for certain works," said Carmen Melian, Sotheby's chief Latin American specialist.

"The works that didn't sell, they will sell quite well in a couple of years when the economy turns around," she added.

Tinged with black, red, gray and white, the mural's central figure is a woman named "America." The style of "Guernica" -- Picasso's 1937 testimonial to war's brutality is thought to have influenced Tamayo's murals.

Compared with other recent auctions including post-war art, the Latin American art sale weathered the global economic storm in relatively good shape.

The Latin American sale total fell one-fifth in value compared with the total auctioned by Sotheby's in an evening sale last spring. But that drop was less than the nearly two-thirds fall over the same periods for Sotheby's sale of post World War II art.   Continued...