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Estate of Mexican screen legend Maria Felix on sale

File photo of Mexican actress Maria Felix, the Mexican diva, who died in 2002. Christie's will auction her estate, including a portrait of her that has never been publicly exhibited and is expected to fetch at least $500,000. REUTERS/Str DA

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Christie’s will auction the estate of Mexican screen legend Maria Felix including a portrait of her that has never been publicly exhibited and is expected to fetch at least $500,000.

The July 17-18 sale in New York includes paintings, antique furniture, decorative arts, clothing, jewelry and film memorabilia from Felix, who died on her 88th birthday in 2002, the auction house announced on Thursday.

Felix appeared in nearly 50 films from 1943 to 1971 and in her later years upheld an image of grace and strength that made her a larger-than-life figure in Mexico, elsewhere in Latin America and parts of Europe.

She was nicknamed “La Dona” -- loosely, the Grand Dame -- after the character of her breakthrough 1943 film “Dona Barbara,” with her career taking off during the Golden Age of Mexican cinema.

The auction will offer some 60 paintings, including portraits of Felix. A 1948 charcoal portrait by famed Mexican artist Diego Rivera of Felix holding a baby in her arms is expected to sell for $150,000 to $200,000.

A 1965 painting by Leonora Carrington -- “Maja del Tarot” -- is a large-scale surrealist double portrait of Felix in the guise of a tarot card. Commissioned for her Mexico City home and never before exhibited in public, the painting is estimated to sell for $500,000 to $700,000, Christie’s said.

A portion of the auction proceeds will benefit the Mexican Red Cross, Christie’s said.

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