Frida Kahlo Paintings: Biography, Auction Results & Famous Artworks

February 10, 2023

In late 2021, an intimate Frida Kahlo self portrait that became one of the most expensive Latin American artwork ever sold. This broke the benchmark set by her husband, Diego Rivera. 

What are the other famous works she created? 

We’ll give you all the answers, including a look at Frida Kahlo’s biography. You’ll also discover Frida Kahlo paintings’ auction results and an easy way to invest in shares of art (through Masterworks).

Frida Kahlo’s Biography

Let’s take a look at the life and times of this renowned artist:

  • 1907: Frida Kahlo was born in Mexico City, Latin America, to a German immigrant father and a Mexican mother. She learned painting early on when she helped her father with his photography work.
  • 1913: The Latin American artist contracted polio, leaving her with a limp for the rest of her life.
  • 1925: Kahlo got hit by a bus, leaving her with a fractured spine and pelvis. During this period, she devoted most of her time to art. The Mexican painter had previously studied science and medicine and never intended to be an artist. She was also known globally as a feminist icon.
  • 1928: She became acquainted with the Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, a gentleman she had briefly met at an art preparatory school years earlier.
  • 1929: Frida Kahlo marries fellow artist Diego Rivera. Frida worked full-time on painting, and most of her work symbolized her life’s painful events and her emblematic strength. She developed a unique surrealist style incorporating elements of indigenous art, Catholic ex-votos, folk art, and Renaissance portraiture.
  • 1938: The Mexican artist Frida Kahlo displayed her first solo exhibition at the Julien Levy Gallery in New York and sold 25 paintings. 
  • 1939: She divorced the Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, but the couple remarried in 1940.
  • 1949: Kahlo painted the famous Diego y yo. Because of the complications from the bus accident, her health deteriorated steadily in the following years. By 1950, the Mexican artist was dependent on a wheelchair.
  • 1953: She had her first solo show at the Lola Álvarez Bravo Gallery in Mexico City. During the opening, a four-poster bed was placed in the gallery’s center for her to lie on.
  • 1954: The Latin American artist passed away at 47, leaving about 200 paintings and sketches behind. About one-third of the artwork by this female artist comprises self-portraits. Kahlo’s work is displayed at famous museums and galleries like Fondation Beyeler, and she remains one of the true titans of 20th century art.

Read more about Frida Kahlo and her career.

What Is the Most Expensive Frida Kahlo Painting Ever Sold at Auction?

The 1949 Diego y yo (Diego and I) is the most expensive Frida Kahlo painting ever sold at an auction. This Frida Kahlo self portrait depicts teary eyed Kahlo and her husband (with a third eye) on her forehead. 

In Diego y yo, Kahlo is wearing a huipil — a type of blouse traditional to the women of southern Mexico. This feminist icon wears this red huipil in many of her famous self-portraits, as well as in a series of photographs by Nickolas Muray (a Hungarian-American portraitist).

The Diego y yo painting was sold at a 2021 Sotheby’s New York auction hosted by Oliver Barker (Chairman of Sotheby’s Europe) and Brooke Lampley (Sotheby’s Chairman and Worldwide Head of Sales for Global Fine Art). Oliver Barker started the bidding at around $4.5 million.

Only two bidders competed for Frida Kahlo’s self-portrait over the phone on Sotheby’s Modern Evening Sale.

One bidder contacted Anna di Stasi, Sotheby’s senior vice president for Latin American art. Meanwhile, the other spoke to Julian Dawes, Sotheby’s co-head of Impressionist and Modern Art in New York. 

According to ABC News and the New York Times, the Latin American painting was sold to Eduardo F Costantini (a client of Anna di Stasi) for $34.9 million.

The winning buyer, Eduardo F Costantini, is the founder of the Museum of Latin American Art of Buenos Aires (MALBA). According to the New York Times, Mr Costantini plans to display the work in his Latin American Art Museum in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Diego y yo is the most expensive Latin American artwork piece sold at Sotheby’s New York Modern Evening Sale and any other art auction. 

The previous record was held by a 1931 Latin American painting called The Rivals by the Mexican artist Diego Rivera, Kahlo’s husband. It sold for $9.76 million at a 2018 Christie’s auction. 

This piece by Rivera inspired Frida Kahlo’s Diego y yo. It is one of the final self-portraits by the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.

The “teary eyed Kahlo” painting was previously owned by a Chicago art historian and educator, Florence Arquin — the person to whom the portrait was dedicated. 

It was later sold to Mary-Anne Martin (a New York art dealer) for about $1.4 million at a 1990 Sothebys auction. Since then, it’s been stored in her private collection for over 30 years until it got recently sold to Mr Costantini.

11 Other Famous Frida Kahlo Artworks Sold at Auctions

Here are the other famous Frida Kahlo artworks that were seen at auctions:

ArtworkYear PaintedTypePrice Auction houseYear Sold
Two Nudes in the Forest1939Oil painting (on metal)$8 millionChristie’s auction house2016
The Flower Basket1941Oil on copper$3.13 million Christie’s auction house2019
Xibalba-Alado-Xólotl1950Pastel and crayon on paper$478,800Sotheby’s auction house2022
Congreso de Los Pueblos Por La Paz1952Oil and tempera on canvas mounted on masonite$2,660,000Sothebys auction house2020
Niña con collar1929Oil on canvas$1,812,500Sotheby’s auction house2016
Roots1943Oil on metal$5,000,000Sotheby’s auction house2006
Recuerdo1937Oil on metal$850,000Christie’s auction house1992
Entrañas1931Ball-point pen$2,265Morton Casa de Subastas2012
Maternidad1932Ball-point pen$2,642Morton Casa de Subastas2012
View of the Central Park1932Pencil and watercolor$70,000Christie’s auction house2003
Parade in a street in Detroit1932Oil on metal sheet$750,000Gary Nader2000

Fun Fact: About 25 of Frida Kahlo’s unpublished love letters (1946-49) written to Jose Bartoli — a Spanish artist — had around 100 pages written in Spanish. This group of letters was last sold to a private collector for about $137,000 at a Doyle New York auction in 2015. 

Bartoli cherished these letters until he passed away in 1995. The Bartoli family kept them for 20 years after Jose’s passing and later sold them.

Now, how do you invest in expensive artworks like the ones created by the great female artist Kahlo, which are in high demand by collectors?

The easiest way is to invest in shares of art through Masterworks.

Masterworks: The Largest Platform for Investing in Shares of Art Masterpieces

Masterworks is the first-ever investment platform that lets you invest in shares of 20th century art and other iconic artworks from Latin America, the USA, and worldwide.

Here’s how it works:

  • Their industry-leading research team finds the artist markets that have the most momentum.
  • They review thousands of artworks and buy less than 5% of what they’re offered.
  • They file an offering circular with the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) — allowing anyone to invest in the securitized painting.
  • You can sell your shares in the Masterworks secondary market or wait until Masterworks sell the painting.       

Ready to diversify your portfolio by investing in shares of artwork by Frida Kahlo, Pablo Picasso, Alexander Calder, Claude Monet, Pierre Soulages, and other artists?

Apply for membership at Masterworks. All you need to do is quickly provide your personal information and then press the “Request Invitation” button.

This article is sponsored by This material is provided for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be investment advice and should not be relied on to form the basis of an investment decision.

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A published financial writer based in Brooklyn, dedicated to navigating the intricate world of markets and money. I aim to dissect the complexities of finance, offering readers a clearer lens into the economic tapestry we all navigate.