Eduardo F. Costantini
Asset management and real estate; philanthropy (founder, Malba, Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires)
Argentine real-estate developer Eduardo F. Costantini is deeply dedicated to promoting art and culture in Latin America. The 76-year-old is the founder and chairman of the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (MALBA, for short), which is unwritten by Costantini’s namesake foundation. In 2001, Costantini donated over 220 works of Latin American art to the museum by artists including famed husband-and-wife duo Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. He wound up acquiring Rivera’s work Baile en Tehuantepec, which he kept for his esteemed collection. With an estimated price of $24 million, it was for a while the most valuable work in his 600-strong holdings, but it is not the piece he is most sentimental about. That honor belongs to two pieces by the storied Argentinian artist León Ferrari.
It took Constantini five years to convince Ferrari to part with the hanging sculpture Gagarín (1961) and his intricate text work Cuadro escrito (1964). Asked about his recent acquisitions in 2019, he mentioned Simpatía (La Rabia del gato) by the Spanish Surrealist Remedios Varo, whose fame has been on the rise of late. He bought that painting for a little over $3 million. In his business career, Costantini has developed some of the most iconic buildings in Buenos Aires, including the Catalinas Plaza in 1995 and the Alem Plaza in 1998. In 2009, he started work on Oceana in Bal Harbour, a project completed in 2015, where prices for condominiums topped out at a cool $19 million. The tower’s outdoor space naturally includes two sculptures by Jeff Koons, both of which residents have an ownership stake in.
Costantini’s collecting practice has helped expand the market for artists in his holdings. In 2020, he bought Wifredo Lam’s Omi Obini (1943) and Remedios Varo’s Armonía (Autorretrato Surgente), 1956, at Sotheby’s for a collected $15.8 million. The Lam work set a record for the most expensive work by a Latin American artist ever auctioned at the time. Two years after that auction, the Varo painting was shown at the Venice Biennale in Italy. Meanwhile, in 2021, Costantini bought Kahlo’s Diego y yo (Diego and I), 1949, at a Sotheby’s auction for $34.9 million, resetting the record minted by the Lam painting. Diego y yo (Diego and I) is now the most valuable work in Costantini’s collection.