Christie’s Latin American sale was again the major arena for contemporary Cuban art during the New York auction season, with Roberto Fabelo setting a new record, a rare Carlos Alfonzo triptych more than doubling its top estimate, and solid numbers from Manuel Mendive, Tomás Sánchez, and other artists.
Volutas (Lot 61), a 2015 canvas by Fabelo measuring roughly seven by nine feet, sold for $300,000—a full 50 percent higher than its high estimate of $200,000. (All prices quoted include buyer’s premium.)
The sale sets a new record at auction for Fabelo, whose previous record of $275,000 was set at Christie’s Latin American sale last May.
The price achieved by Volutas reflects the strong upward swing that Fabelo’s work has taken at auction over the past two years. In our spring auction report for 2017, the artist was noted for having attained a sale of $100,000.
The other major breakthrough in the Christie’s auction came with the sale of Water Seeds (Lot 52), an oil-on-canvas triptych painted in 1988–89 by Carlos Alfonzo (1950–1991), a leading artist of the “Miami Generation.”
The work, which measures almost ten feet in length, was Alfonzo’s only private commission, created for an oceanfront residence. Prior to the sale, the work had only one owner, and had never been shown in public.
Estimated at $100,000–$150,000, Water Seeds more than doubled its top figure to reach $350,000, setting an auction record for the artist.
“Alfonzo was a trailblazer, who worked in tune with the leading Neo-Expressionist and Conceptual artists of the 1980s,” declared Virgilio Garza, head of Latin American Art at Christie’s. Water Seeds, he said, is “a revelation, marking the painter at the height of his powers.”
Works by Manuel Mendive and Tomás Sánchez turned in results well within and above their estimates. Aguas profundas (Lot 59), a roughly nine-by-nine-foot, 1994 canvas by Manuel Mendive, surpassed its high estimate of $80,000 to achieve $93,750.
The first work in the evening sale, Tomás Sánchez’s Meditador, laguna, nube (2018), reached $87,500 against a high estimate of $80,000.
In the Christie’s day sale, works by Roberto Diago, Emilio Sánchez, and Agustín Cárdenas also sold comfortably within their estimates.