Botero sculpture, Tamayo painting lead Latam sales

Mon Nov 14, 2011 12:31pm EST
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By Walker Simon

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A towering Fernando Botero sculpture and a painting by Mexican master Rufino Tamayo lead Latin American art auctions this week, which could benefit from strong demand seen in earlier art sales in New York.

Botero's bronze "Dancers," which was cast in 2007 and is 10 feet 5 inches tall, could sell for as much as $2 million when it goes under the hammer at Christie's.

If it reaches its top estimate it will exceed the $1.6 million auction record for a Botero sculpture, said Virglio Garza, Christie's Latin American art chief.

"It could be one of his tallest sculptures ever to come to auction," he said. "It's unusual because the dancers are of equal proportion. Normally Botero shows one dancer as larger."

As an example, he pointed to Botero's 1982 painting "Dancing Couple," which is expected to sell for up to $1 million at the auction. It shows a bulky black-haired man leading a much smaller blonde.

Christie's hopes to sell $18 million to $25 million in Latin American art during the two-day sale on Tuesday and Wednesday.

"There's a certain energy which persists from the contemporary art sales last week; we could have a tailwind," Garza said. "That could be one of the keys to our success."

Collectively, Christie's and Sotheby's sold more than $600 million of postwar and contemporary art last week, breaking auction records for over a dozen artists in a sign financial turmoil has not dulled the appetite of deep-pocketed collectors.   Continued...

<p>Rufino Tamayo&rsquo;s oil on canvas &ldquo;Watermelon Slices,&rdquo; is seen in this handout released to Reuters. The painting, which due to be auctioned on Tuesday evening at Sotheby's in New York, is estimated to sell for between $1.5 million to $2 million, the auction house said. Tamayo, who died in 1991, is widely considered by art experts as one of the four towering figures of Mexican 20th century art, along with Diego Rivera, Jose Clemente Orozco and David Sequeiros. REUTERS/Sotheby's/Handout</p>