Auctions Market USA

Brazil leads the way at New York’s autumn Latin American sales

Sergio Camargo and Lygia Clark clinch top spots at Sotheby’s and Phillips, while Mexican artist Rufino Tamayo reaches the moon at Christie’s

Sergio Camargo's Untitled (Relief No 21/52), 1964, sold at Sotheby's for $2.2m—almost four times its high estimate of $600,000—setting a record for the artist

New York’s Latin American art auctions once again took place in the shadow of record-breaking contemporary art sales at the end of November. Nevertheless, the appetite for Brazilian artists continues to grow.

Two works by Brazilian artist Sergio Camargo (1930-90) were the only lots to sell for more than $1m at Sotheby’s evening sale on 20 November. His Untitled (Relief No 289), 1970, sold for $1.3m ($700,000-$900,000) while Untitled (Relief No 21/52), 1964, set a record for the artist, at $2.2m—almost four times its high estimate of $600,000. Overall, Sotheby’s 224-lot sales on 20 to 21 November made $21.3m against its presale estimate of $21.6m-$29.5m.

A Brazilian artist also clinched Phillips’s top spot, when Lygia Clark’s Bicho Invertebrado, 1960, sold for $1.9m on 21 November ($1.2-1.8m). Its sales total was $6.1m.

Meanwhile, the Mexican artist Rufino Tamayo was the top lot at Christie’s when his Women reaching for the Moon, 1946, sold for $1.4m. The painting had been acquired a year after it was completed by the Cleveland Museum of Art, which deaccessioned the piece, along with Roberto Matta’s La Rosa, 1943 (sold for $461,000), to fund future acquisitions. The sales total for Christie’s sales from 19 to 20 November was $18.2m against a presale estimate of $16m-$22m.

While healthy, the combined sales results for all three auction houses are still well below the peak for Latin American art in May 2008, when Sotheby’s made $28.1m and Christie’s set a record for the category with $33.9m.

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