An art handler adjusts Frida Kahlo's final "Bust" Self-Portrait 'Diego y yo" (Diego and I) at Sotheby's in New York City. –AFP

A rare painting by Frida Kahlo sold in a New York auction house for almost $35 million, a record price for a work by the iconic Mexican artist. At the same sale, a painting by French artist Pierre Soulages also broke a record for his work by reaching $20.2 million dollars. As expected, the self-portrait of Kahlo entitled "Diego y yo" ("Diego and me," 1949), where the face of the painter's husband Diego Rivera appears on her forehead, smashed the former record of $8 million set by a Kahlo in 2016.

That made it the most expensive Latin American work of art in history sold at auction, the previous record having gone to a painting by Diego Rivera himself, whose work "Los Rivales" (1931) sold for $9.76 million in 2018. "Diego y yo" is emblematic of Kahlo's self-portraits, known for their intense and enigmatic gaze that made the Mexican painter, a feminist icon, famous around the world. In the painting, Rivera's face appears on Frida's forehead, above her distinctive eyebrows and dark eyes from which a few teardrops fall.

The depiction of Rivera, who at the time was close to Mexican actress Maria Felix, as a third eye symbolizes the extent to which he tormented her thoughts, art experts say. Kahlo and Rivera married each other twice. She died aged just 47 in 1954. "Diego y yo" last sold at Sotheby's for $1.4 million in 1990.

Soulages' painting, which had spent more than 30 years in a private collection, corresponds to the red period of the century-old French artist. It sold for $20.2 million after a heated battle between several bidders, some of them in Sotheby's auction room and others on the phone, greatly exceeding the previous record reached in 2019 of $9.6 million euros in Paris. - AFP