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Frida Kahlo’s Painting ‘Lady In White’ Just Sold For $5.8 Million And The Mystery Of The Woman Lives On

Ponder this for a second: If money was not a factor (yes, if you were filthy rich), how much would you pay for a work of art? Hundreds of thousands, millions?! Whoever your favorite artist is (mine is clearly Frida Kahlo), it probably wouldn’t matter, right? I’ve been to enough Kahlo exhibits around the world, and I always ask myself two questions: 1. Who are the lucky people in the world that can say they are owners of an original piece of art by Kahlo? 2. Could I ever own a real Kahlo piece of my own? Those questions are, at times, depressing because the answer is always a “who knows” and “probably not.” However, it is still fascinating to hear Kahlo’s real work — not the replicas or random merchandise — continues to be of real value. 

At a recent auction in New York, a painting by Frida Kahlo titled “Lady in White” sold for $5.8 million.

Credit: christiesinc / Instagram

The painting that dates back to 1929 or 1930 is very different from her most famously known pieces. Some art experts suggest that one of the reasons why this painting appears to be different from her surrealist and vibrant techniques is because Kahlo perhaps never finished the artwork. And, you can tell because the banner on top was left empty. 

It is said that Khalo painted this piece when she and her husband Diego Rivera were living in San Francisco. He was there of course because he was commissioned to do several murals. However, it is Kahlo who is still remembered by the San Francisco community — they did, after all, rename a street in her honor. 

The buyer of the piece is unfortunately unknown, but we do know somethings about the previous owners. 

Credit: fridakahlo / Facebook

According to Artnet, Kahlo first gave the painting to another female Mexican artist. Photographer Lola Álvarez Bravo, “a major figure in the Mexican Renaissance of post-revolution art from the 1930s through the 1950s,” was the first person ever to own this million-dollar piece. It was later in the hands of Stanford University from the collection of Dr. Helga Prignitz-Poda, on loan. The 

Christie’s Latin American art sale sold “Lady in White” on Nov. 22 at their auction, and we are so curious as to who bought it. Art collectors, of course, can be anyone living in the one percent, so we just hope this piece of iconic art is in the right hands. 

There’s always been speculation on who the “Lady in White” is, but I have my doubts. 

Credit: fridakahlo / Facebook

Some Kahlo experts say the “Lady in White” was Kahlo’s first lesbian lover, and the reason the painting isn’t finished is that “their love affair ended abruptly.” Another theory is that the woman was a friend of Kahlo’s and that this woman ended “their friendship finished unexpectedly before she can finish this painting.”

Artnet reports that in 2014, two people said the “Lady in White” was their aunt Dorothy (Brown) Fox. They also report that it could be a “relative or friend of Ralph Stackpole, a sculptor who lived with Kahlo and Rivera in San Francisco.” According to Virgilio Garza, the head of Christie’s Latin American Art department, that he thought the woman in the painting was “Kahlo’s high school classmate Elena Boder.” My theory is it could have been anyone that Kahlo felt was deserving of being memorialized forever. 

This is not Kahlo’s highest-grossing painting that was sold at a Christie’s auction. 

In 2016, Kahlo’s 1939 painting “Dos Desnudos en el Bosque (La Tierra Misma)” sold for $8 million. The highest-grossing Latin artwork ever sold at the auction is one by her husband Diego. 

Credit: fridakahlo / Facebook

The piece, titled “The Rivals,” sold for $9.76 million, which put it on the top of the list. The record was previously held by Kahlo herself.

“It’s undoubtedly one of Rivera’s masterpieces,” Garza told CNN. “The viewer’s gaze recedes in stages, from the men in the foreground, to the brightly dressed women under the hanging papel picado. Rivera’s brilliant composition of intersecting planes creates a cinematic narrative.” 

Sure it’s an incredible work of art, but nothing and no one will ever come close to the genius that is Kahlo.

Credit: fridakahlo / Facebook

Whoever the lucky buyer is, can you please loan it to any museum so we can see it in person too?!

READ: There’s A Frida Kahlo Exhibit That Features Rare Family Photos And It Made Me So Emotional

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