Botero sculpture leads New York art auction

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Botero sculpture leads New York art auction

NEW YORK - 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. On Wednesday and Thursday, Sotheby’s estimates its sale of Latin American art could go as high as $19.2 million to $26.2 million.

“What is outstanding about the sale is the retrospective quality of the work of the great Mexican master Rufino Tamayo, represented from 1928 to the 1970s,” said Carmen Melian, Sotheby’s Latin American art chief. The sale’s top lot is Tamayo’s 1950 “Watermelon Slices.”

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