Artist Frida Kahlo's 'highly coveted' Edgar Allen Poe book brings $24,000

Famed author and poet Edgar Allen Poe is still celebrated and collected around the world.

One noted collector, who owns a first edition of an Edgar Allen Poe book with original illustrations, is actor Johnny Depp.

Depp cherishes a memory of showing it to Vincent Price, who became tremendously excited at the book and especially the drawings.

Price began talking about Poe's short story (later a film) The Tomb of Ligeia, and leapt up and recited it with great passion. Depp noticed when he looked up the book that Price had been absolutely word perfect.

In a different sphere, celebrated Mexican artist Frida Kahlo is also highly coveted by collectors, and her works have attracted six and seven figure bids.

Obviously the two are not usually related. But at Leslie Hindman's auction earlier this week one lot will have interested collectors of both kinds:

The beaten-up copy of The Works of Edgar Allan Poe was covered the book with doodles, inscriptions, paint and collaged leaves by Kahlo.

Frida Kahlo decorated Works of Edgar Allan Poe
Frida Kahlo's decorated Works of Edgar Allan Poe

The most interesting inscription appears at the beginning of the book, where Frida has the written following in crayon: "Pues si, Frida Kahlo, Auxocromo Cromoforo, 1922, 1945, 23, 12, 35, always."

A close reading, offered by Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and Mexican Modernist expert Luis-Martin Lozano, points directly to Kahlo's relationship with her husband, Diego Rivera:

Frida Kahlo met Rivera in 1922; she wrote in the book in 1945; she met Diego when she was 12 (actually 15, but she claimed she was born in 1910 to appear younger) and he was 35; the 23 refers not only to the years between when Frida wrote in the book and when she met Rivera (1922-1945), but also to their difference in age.

These numbers and connections are coupled with the word 'always' and the symbol for infinity.

The book carried an estimate of $20,000-$30,000 in Leslie Hindman's sale, and sold on target at $24,400.


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