Tamayo painting found in dumpster sells for more than $1M

A painting pulled out of a Manhattan dumpster by a passerby has sold for more than $1 million US at auction.

Call it a triumph for the Trashcan School of modern art.

A painting pulled out of a Manhattan dumpster by a passerby has sold for more than $1 million US at auction.

The abstract work, Tres Personajes, by Mexican artist Rufino Tamayo, sold for $1,049,000 USto an unidentifiedU.S. collector Tuesday evening at a Sotheby's auction in New York.

Manhattan writer Elizabeth Gibson found the painting in 2003 on her morning walk, and it took her nearly four years of sleuthing to find out whothe work really belonged to.

Something about the painting pulled her in, Gibson told CBC News last month,acknowledging she's not much of a fan of modern art.

"It is huge and it's very brilliant-coloured, very abstract, but you can make out three figures and it's just very powerful, it's overwhelming," she said.

Through research in the library and an episode of Antiques Road Show, she learned the painting had been stolen in 1987 from a Texas warehouse. She contacted Sotheby's auction house, who located the owners.

The widow ofthe Houston man who originally bought the painting, created in 1970 by Tamayo, decided to sell the work.

Gibson received a $15,000 US reward for turning in Tres Personajes and also will get a percentage of the sale price.

Tamayo, who was born in 1899 in the Mexican state of Oaxaca and who died in 1991, often painted withthe vivid colours of his homeland, like the reds and yellows of Tres Personajes.

Another Tamayo, Bodegon con Mujer, on offer in the same auction of Latin American art, failed to sell.

A third Tamayo work, Trovador,which was to be the star of Christie's auction of Latin American art, alsoon Tuesday, had to be pulled from the sale because of a court ruling.

The painting, estimated tobe worthup to $3 million, was being sold by Randolph College in Virginia.

But a group of art lovers launched a lawsuitto block the sale and the sale of three other paintings, including a George Bellows.

The Christie's auction set several records for Latin American artists, among them:

  • $1.27 million for the 1959 painting Exploracion de las fuentes del Orinoco (Exploring the source of the Orinoco River) by Spanish-Mexican surrealist artist Remedios Varos.
  • $1.6 million for Mujer Fumando (Woman Smoking), a sculpture by Colombian artist Fernando Botero.
  • $457,000 for a 1945 drawing, The Garden, by the late Cuban Amelia Pelaez, a record for a drawing by a female Latin American artist.

Back at Sotheby's, Roberto Matta's Et At It, which was expected to sell for $2.5 million to $3.5 million, failed to sell.

Botero's Le Dejeuner sur l'Herbe sold for $1.33 million,the highest price at the Sotheby's auction but below its estimate of $1.4 million.