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Frida Kahlo painting fetches record $8M for artist at auction

Frida Kahlo's "Dos Desnudos en el Bosque," (Two Nudes in the Forest). (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

NEW YORK — A painting by Frida Kahlo set a new auction record for the Mexican painter when it sold for $8 million at Christie's sale of impressionist and modern art Thursday night.

Kahlo's "Two Nudes in the Forest (The Land Itself)," depicts two nudes in a dreamlike setting. It had been estimated to bring $8 million to $12 million and was shown in an exhibition at The New York Botanical Garden last year. The previous auction record for Kahlo was $5.6 million.

The small 1939 canvas was a gift for Kahlo's friend, film star Dolores del Rio. It last appeared at auction in 1989.

Works by Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso and other perennial favorites also went up for sale.

The top lot of the sale was an iconic painting by Monet depicting his beloved water lily pond, which sold for $27 million. It's one of a sequence of 14 paintings the French impressionist artist created in 1918-1919. "Pond with Water Lilies" has been in the same collection for 20 years and was estimated to bring $25 million to $35 million. The auction record for a Monet work is $80.4 million for another water lily picture.

"Seated Man," a picture from Picasso's famous musketeer series, fetched $8 million, just matching its low presale estimate. Created in 1969, the colorful portrait of a swordsman was exhibited at the 1970 Avignon exhibition at the Palais des Papes.

There are a total of 52 works in the auction, including a portrait by Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani. His "Young Woman with a Rose," painted in 1916, sold for $12.8 million.