Eduardo F. Costantini was the buyer of two record-setting paintings by Latin American modernists at Sotheby’s last June, the auction house revealed on Monday. The Argentine collector purchased Wifredo Lam’s Omi Obini (1943) and Remedios Varo’s Armonía (Autorretrato Surgente), 1956, for a collected $15.8 million at the auction house’s New York headquarters. Costantini is now set to bring them to the Museo de Arte Latinamericano de Buenos Aires (MALBA), his private museum in Argentina.
Costantini won the works—the Lam, an abstract cubist-inspired painting; the Varo, an interior scene depicting a seated lone figure— during a Sotheby’s Impressionist and modern art evening sale in New York that counted among the first major auctions held following lockdown. It was intended to spotlight Latin American artworks that had long been excluded from marquee 20th-century art evening sales.
“It is very difficult for this type of superlative works to appear in the open market,” said Costantini in a statement. “When they do, I try to buy them because it can take fifty years to see them again.”
The Lam work, which Constantini bought for $9.6 million, surpassed the previous record for the most expensive painting by a Latin American artist to sell at auction. It surpassed a record minted in 2018 by Diego Rivera’s painting Los rivales (1931), which was went for $9.76 million during a sale of David Rockefeller’s collection at Christie’s in New York.
Costantini also said that he had put $25 million toward MALBA, which is set to display the Lam and Varo works after three decades held in private hands.
The collector also bought surrealist Alice Rahon’s Autorretrato (1951) and Mario Carreño’s Paisaje cubano (1943) during the same Sotheby’s sale for a collected $381,000.