Executives interested in starting or adding to a prized art collection would do well to follow the advice of Sotheby's Carmen Melián.
"Never look for a cheap bargain in art," says the vice-president and recently named director of Sotheby's Latin American art department in New York. "Always buy a little better than you can afford. Instead of buying the worst of a well-known artist, buy the best work of a slightly lesser-know artist."
In charge of organizing Sotheby's biannual Latin American art sales, the 47-year-old Ms. Melián is "constantly on the move," dealing with North American and international clients in Europe, South America, the Far East, Indonesia, and Australia, as well as working with regional offices throughout South America, Europe, and the United States. The spring and fall auctions, which encompass 500 years of Latin American art and include some 180 works in each sale, are "more geographic than stylistic" and range from Colonial to contemporary works, including landscapes and historical works by 19th-century foreign artists who traveled to the Americas to paint. Each two-day event averages sales in the $10 million range, although a highlight of Ms. Melián's career was the 2000 sale of Frida Kahlo's 1928 self portrait, which sold for over $5 million. It was the most expensive work of art by any female artist at the time.
"You should only buy art if you truly want to live with it and enjoy it," stresses Ms. Melián. "If you buy wisely, but always buy with your heart, you will always be happy with what you have."
Art and Culture
Latin American Art Sale
Sotheby's spring auction of Latin American art, featuring such artists as Joaquín Torres-García, Diego Rivera, Arturo Michelena, and Rufino Tamayo, takes place May 24-25, 2005. For information or to order a catalog, visit www.sothebys.com
Carmen MeliAn's NYC "Hidden Treasures"
The Hispanic Society
On Broadway between
155th and 156th streets
•This museum on the Upper Westside houses works by Diego Velázquez and Esteban Murillo, along with one of the best collections of Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida's work in the United States.
9-01 33rd Road
(at Vernon Boulevard)
Long Island City
•An oasis of peace away from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan.
1032 Lexington Avenue
(between 73rd and
•This French bistro near Sotheby's offers mouth-watering pastries, as well as fine dining for lunch and dinner.
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