1904 Diego Rivera "El Albañil" Oil Painting

Value (2018) | $1,200,000 Retail$2,200,000 Retail
Watch  

GUEST:
Well, it's been in my family for over 80 years. It was purchased somewhere around 1930 by my great-grandparents.

APPRAISER:
In Mexico or in the United States?

GUEST:
I believe it was purchased in Mexico.

APPRAISER:
Okay.

GUEST:
And the painting for some time was in bad condition, and it was hanging behind a door.

APPRAISER:
Behind a door?

GUEST:
Behind a door in the house.

APPRAISER:
Dear.

GUEST:
If that door was open, then you couldn't see the painting.

APPRAISER:
Well, there are two extraordinarily intriguing words in an artists' catalogue of paintings. And those are: whereabouts unknown.

GUEST:
All right.

APPRAISER:
My understanding of the painting's history is that it was painted in 1904 by Diego Rivera. And at that point, Diego Rivera, who was arguably one of the most important Latin-American 20th-century artists, was only 18 years old. And this was only, I think, three or four paintings by the artist that are known from that early time. It's a wonderful period, early 20th-century painting. But it also gives hints of his mural style, his technique. And even more so, in a way, his subject matter, which were the workers of Mexico.

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
A really terrific image. The painting is oil on canvas. It's signed and dated lower right, "Diego Rivera, 1904." And what's interesting about the signature is, it's a very young man's signature. It's one of his school signatures rather than the more formal, mature signature that we'll see later.

GUEST:
Oh, really?

APPRAISER:
The research that we found in the authentication process of it is that it had been missing. In the records in Mexico City, it was unknown. Where's the painting? Where is "El Abañil"? Which is "The Laborer." It was an important painting for him in 1904, and then disappeared from 1930 to roughly 1995 or '96, when it was exhibited and authenticated.

GUEST:
Now, they have done some restoration on it.

APPRAISER:
Yes, it has been lined. But it is in very fine restored condition. Well, I think you have something of a painting trifecta here.

GUEST:
Oh, good, good.

APPRAISER:
The painting itself is by a very important artist, it has a terrific history of being purchased in Mexico in 1930, and it's a very beautiful and important painting. So, trifectas usually pay pretty well. (laughing) I would be putting a retail estimate on the piece of between $800,000 and $1 million.

GUEST:
Seriously?

APPRAISER:
Seriously.

GUEST:
Oh, my gosh. Oh, wow. Unbelievable-- I did not expect that. I'm astounded. I really don't know what to say. (laughing)

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Colleene Fesko Works of Art
Boston, MA
Update (2018)
$1,200,000 Retail$2,200,000 Retail
Appraised value (2012)
$800,000 Retail$1,000,000 Retail
Event
Corpus Christi, TX (August 04, 2012)
Material
Oil
July 25, 2018: In the September 2018 broadcast of our special episode "Celebrating Latino Heritage," we reported an astounding value update of this 1904 Diego Rivera oil painting. Since her initial retail range of $800,000 to $1 million in Corpus Christi in 2012, appraiser Colleene Fesko has increased her estimate to between $1.2 million and $2.2 million as of July 2018.

Why such a huge jump?

According to Fesko there's a combination of factors. She explained by email this summer:

"Initially, as we discussed in the segment, 'El Albañil' is a very important early piece for the understanding and appreciation of Rivera's stellar career.

Market-wise, 17 different paintings by the artist have sold for more than $1 million at auction; most recently, 'The Rivals' from the Rockefeller collection sold for a record-breaking $9.7 million after a pre-sale estimate of $5 million to $7 million. While the importance of the provenance of that particular painting cannot be overstated, it still speaks to the artist as a globally respected cornerstone of Mexican modern art.

Finally, Mexico's 1972 law governing cultural patrimony 'declares as property of the nation' all pre-Hispanic artifacts and most colonial works of art. It also allows the work of contemporary artists, including Rivera, to be appended to the national patrimony by decree. In short, important works by Rivera are considered national treasures."

Executive producer Marsha Bemko shares her tips for getting the most out of ANTIQUES ROADSHOW.

Value can change: The value of an item is dependent upon many things, including the condition of the object itself, trends in the market for that kind of object, and the location where the item will be sold. These are just some of the reasons why the answer to the question "What's it worth?" is so often "It depends."

Note the date: Take note of the date the appraisal was recorded. This information appears in the upper left corner of the page, with the label "Appraised On." Values change over time according to market forces, so the current value of the item could be higher, lower, or the same as when our expert first appraised it.

Context is key: Listen carefully. Most of our experts will give appraisal values in context. For example, you'll often hear them say what an item is worth "at auction," or "retail," or "for insurance purposes" (replacement value). Retail prices are different from wholesale prices. Often an auctioneer will talk about what she knows best: the auction market. A shop owner will usually talk about what he knows best: the retail price he'd place on the object in his shop. And though there are no hard and fast rules, an object's auction price can often be half its retail value; yet for other objects, an auction price could be higher than retail. As a rule, however, retail and insurance/replacement values are about the same.

Verbal approximations: The values given by the experts on ANTIQUES ROADSHOW are considered "verbal approximations of value." Technically, an "appraisal" is a legal document, generally for insurance purposes, written by a qualified expert and paid for by the owner of the item. An appraisal usually involves an extensive amount of research to establish authenticity, provenance, composition, method of construction, and other important attributes of a particular object.

Opinion of value: As with all appraisals, the verbal approximations of value given at ROADSHOW events are our experts' opinions formed from their knowledge of antiques and collectibles, market trends, and other factors. Although our valuations are based on research and experience, opinions can, and sometimes do, vary among experts.

Appraiser affiliations: Finally, the affiliation of the appraiser may have changed since the appraisal was recorded. To see current contact information for an appraiser in the ROADSHOW Archive, click on the link below the appraiser's picture. Our Appraiser Index also contains a complete list of active ROADSHOW appraisers and their contact details and biographies.