Botero's bronze "Horse" top seller at NY Latam art auction

NEW YORK Wed Nov 21, 2012 12:08pm EST

1 of 4. People look at the 'Madre e Hijos' (Mother and Children) by Mexican master Diego Rivera during a preview of Latin American art at Christie's Auction house in New York November 19, 2012. The 1926 painting, expected to fetch $800,000, depicts a barefoot boy standing next to his sister, who is ensconced in their mother's lap. The children show a gravitas beyond their years.

Credit: Reuters/Brendan McDermid

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Colombian artist Fernando Botero's "Horse" sculpture was the highlight of Christie's Latin American auction, which also set a record for Cuban-born artist Tomas Sanchez.

Botero's 1999 bronze work with dark brown patina, fetched $938,500 at the sale late on Tuesday and Sanchez's 2005 acrylic on canvas "Buscador de Paisajes," (Landscape Searcher), sold for $626,500, Christie's said.

"The energetic, selective market for Latin American art was highlighted by modern masters such as Botero," said Virgilio Garza, the auction house's Latin American art chief, of the sale which totaled $13.6 million for 61 works of the 79 on offer.

A 1981 Botero painting, "Nun Eating an Apple," which Christie's described as a whimsical representation of Original Sin, showing a portly nun with a bible in her left hand and the forbidden fruit in her right, went for $602,500.

"The apple can represent temptation," Garza explained. "She looks like she's almost being caught, with her eyes glancing outside the frame."

Sanchez's record-setting work shows a miniscule man contemplating an overwhelming forest. Willowy trees form a canopy over a creek and a patch of light blue sky and a pink stripe on the horizon shine through breaks in the foliage.

Mexican artist Rufino Tamayo's 1970 oil and sand on canvas "Tres personajes en un interior" (An Interior with Three Characters) was another highlight of the sale. It sold for $698,500.

A Diego Rivera painting, "Portrait of Linda Christian," was another favorite, fetching $578,500. It was painted in 1947, the year before the Hollywood actress married actor Tyrone Power and played opposite Johnny Weissmuller in his last Tarzan film, "Tarzan and the Mermaids."

Christian, who was born in Tampico, Mexico, and died last year, also played a Bond girl in the 1954 television version of the Ian Fleming novel "Casino Royale."

Among Brazilian works, Ibere Camargo's 1957 oil on canvas "Jogos de Carreteis I" (Set of Spools I) set an auction record for the artist, going for $422,500, about triple its $120,000 to $180,000 pre-sale estimate.

Other records were set for Cuban-born Carmen Herrera's "Amarillo Dos" (Yellow Two), an acrylic on wood relief sculpture, executed in 1971, which fetched $170,500, and for contemporary Colombian artist Olga de Amaral, whose 1998 "Montana" (Mountain), a tapestry of painted woven fabric, went for $103,300.

(Editing by Patricia Reaney and Kenneth Barry)

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