Back in 1955, Frida Kahlo’s painting “La Mesa Herida” mysteriously vanished, to the great distress of the art world. Now, an art dealer is claiming to have found the painting—but experts are deeply skeptical.
Though Kahlo once displayed the painting in her own home, she sent it to the Soviet Union in 1945 as a “gift of friendship.” Apparently Kahlo’s admiration of the country was not returned, because it languished in storage in Moscow until it was eventually loaned to a gallery in Warsaw. But from that point, historians never worked out whether it was returned to Moscow or suffered some other fate.
Fast forward to today, where you can’t throw a rock without hitting five college students dragging around a Frida Kahlo tote bag. In June, a relatively unknown art dealer named Cristian López Márquez claims to have discovered the disappeared painting, and says experts have valued it at around $45 million:
However, scholars have said that there are some major issues with López’s claims. According to the AP:
Helga Prignitz-Poda, an art historian who has fruitlessly tried to track down the long-lost painting, said that there are clear differences between the work for sale and old photographs of the original and that there are similarities between the offered work with inaccurate replicas based on those old images.
In addition, she said, Kahlo did the painting on wood and not on canvas. The work for sale is described as a canvas painting.
Hans-Jérgen Gehrke, an art collector who runs a Kahlo museum in Germany, said the claim was ““implausible, if not directly ridiculous.” Because of Kahlo’s explosive popularity, and the relative rarity of her paintings, fakes are a dime a dozen.
“There are thousands of Frida Kahlo fakes,” Gehrke told the AP. “She is possibly the artist who has painted more dead than in life.”
But López is sticking to his guns.
“Time will give us the truth,” he said. “Whoever proves genuine interest and the ability to pay the figure of 40 million euros, can spend as much time as wanted with their experts analyzing the work.”
Damn. Please let me know if this ploy works because I also have a La Mesa Herida that I found.