Kahlo's 'Roots' expected to sell for record £4m

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The Independent Online

A rare full-length self-portrait of the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo which was seen in Tate Modern's exhibition last year is being tipped to set a world record for the artist at auction.

The 1943 painting, Roots, in which long roots extend from the breast of Kahlo who paints herself lying on her side, has an estimate of up to £4m.

It is currently back on show in London at Sotheby's but will be sold by the auction house in New York on 24 May where it is predicted to break the previous record prize for a Kahlo.

In May 2000, a self-portrait dating from 1929 sold for more than £2.8m against an estimate of £1.7m-£2.2m, making it the most expensive work of Latin American art sold at auction.

Roots, which was painted after Kahlo remarried Diego Riviera, has been in a private collection in North America for more than 20 years and has not appeared on the public market before. Interest is likely to be high in the work by an artist who has become coveted by collectors.

Carmen Melian, director of Sotheby's Latin American art department, said it was an honour to offer the work. "This is the period when her paintings are most finished, when her work is most mature. Roots is a superb example of the great introspection and beauty in Kahlo's work."

The extraordinary public passion for Kahlo's highly autobiographical and exotic works was evident at Tate Modern last year when the exhibition, the first dedicated solely to her art in Britain, attracted 370,000 visitors. This puts it in the top five of the gallery's most successful shows.

Kahlo was born in Mexico in 1907 and suffered ill health all her life, starting with childhood polio which damaged her right leg. She was badly injured in a bus crash when 17. Her love for Riviera was passionate but turbulent and both were unfaithful. She died in 1954.