Botero's bronze "Horse" top seller at NY Latam art auction

NEW YORK, Nov 21 (Reuters) - Colombian artist Fernando

Botero's "Horse" sculpture was the highlight of Christie's Latin

American auction, which also set a record for Cuban-born artist

Tomas Sanchez.

Botero's 1999 bronze work with dark brown patina, fetched

$938,500 at the sale late on Tuesday and Sanchez's 2005 acrylic

on canvas "Buscador de Paisajes," (Landscape Searcher), sold for

$626,500, Christie's said.

"The energetic, selective market for Latin American art was

highlighted by modern masters such as Botero," said Virgilio

Garza, the auction house's Latin American art chief, of the sale

which totaled $13.6 million for 61 works of the 79 on offer.

A 1981 Botero painting, "Nun Eating an Apple," which

Christie's described as a whimsical representation of Original

Sin, showing a portly nun with a bible in her left hand and the

forbidden fruit in her right, went for $602,500.

"The apple can represent temptation," Garza explained. "She

looks like she's almost being caught, with her eyes glancing

outside the frame."

Sanchez's record-setting work shows a miniscule man

contemplating an overwhelming forest. Willowy trees form a

canopy over a creek and a patch of light blue sky and a pink

stripe on the horizon shine through breaks in the foliage.

Mexican artist Rufino Tamayo's 1970 oil and sand on canvas

"Tres personajes en un interior" (An Interior with Three

Characters) was another highlight of the sale. It sold for

$698,500.

A Diego Rivera painting, "Portrait of Linda Christian," was

another favorite, fetching $578,500. It was painted in 1947, the

year before the Hollywood actress married actor Tyrone Power and

played opposite Johnny Weissmuller in his last Tarzan film,

"Tarzan and the Mermaids."

Christian, who was born in Tampico, Mexico, and died last

year, also played a Bond girl in the 1954 television version of

the Ian Fleming novel "Casino Royale."

Among Brazilian works, Ibere Camargo's 1957 oil on canvas

"Jogos de Carreteis I" (Set of Spools I) set an auction record

for the artist, going for $422,500, about triple its $120,000 to

$180,000 pre-sale estimate.

Other records were set for Cuban-born Carmen Herrera's

"Amarillo Dos" (Yellow Two), an acrylic on wood relief

sculpture, executed in 1971, which fetched $170,500, and for

contemporary Colombian artist Olga de Amaral, whose 1998

"Montana" (Mountain), a tapestry of painted woven fabric, went

for $103,300.

(Editing by Patricia Reaney and Kenneth Barry)