In a significant indication of the growing strength of the Latin American—and specifically Cuban—modern and contemporary art market, the Christie’s sale on Tuesday evening saw exceptionally strong sales for Tomás Sánchez, followed the next night by a record-breaking price of $4.5-plus million for a 1944 Wifredo Lam at Sotheby’s.

Tomás Sánchez, La luz diagonal y el contemplador, 1995.
Courtesy Christie’s

The Lam painting, Ídolo (Oya/Divinité de l’air et de la mortblew past its pre-sale estimate of $2 to 3 million to more than double its low-end figure at a final price of $4,562,500. Done in oil and charcoal in what curator and art historian Lowery Stokes Sims described as “a more spontaneous and process-oriented mode” with a “loose, freely dripping technique,” the rarely exhibited 1944 work had been in the same private collection since 1947.

La luz diagonal y el contemplador, one of four works by Tomás Sánchez in the Christie’s sale, eclipsed its low-end figure by a similar margin. Originally estimated at $200,000-$300,000, the 1995 canvas came in at $485,500. Another Sánchez painting, Contemplar y escuchar, done last year, also more than doubled its low-end figure of $50,000 with a final price of $110,500.

Several other Cuban artists achieved prices that surpassed the works’ high estimates and more than doubled their lows. Among them were Mario Carreño, whose untitled 1986 canvas reached $122,500 against a pre-sale estimate of $50,000-$70,000, and Los Carpinteros, whose 1998 mixed media installation Molino de viento reached $98,500 against a pre-sale estimate of $40,000 to $60,000.