"The Most Influential Mexican on Wall Street" Sells Two Paintings for a Total of US$76m at Christie's

In Christie’s upcoming Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale, you will be able to see an exceptional selection of works by some of the most important names in 20th century art along with paintings by renowned contemporary artists. A source in the art industry reveals that two of the leading lots which could sell for a total of up to US$76.45m belong to the mysterious seller David Martinez. Not only is he a billionaire, but he is also called “the most influential Mexican on Wall Street”. Who actually is David Martinez?

David Martinez is described as “the most influential Mexican on Wall Street”

Andy Warhol's Double Elvis (1963)

Before diving into the background of this mysterious seller, let’s talk about the two lots that he’s selling. First is Double Elvis (1963) by Andy Warhol which has an estimate of US$50m - 70m.  The Double Elvis series is one of the most prominent works by Andy Warhol. All of the paintings are similar, apart from the depth of colours and distances between the two Elvis in the paintings.

In May 2018, Steve Wynn, the founder of the Wynn Resorts, sold his Double Elvis at Christie’s New York for US$37m. Compared to the present Double Elvis, one of Wynn’s Elvis was much lighter in colour but the distances between the figures are similar. Another Double Elvis is currently in the Museum of Modern Art in New York (MoMA).

Another point to note is that this Double Elvis has third party guarantees, which means that it will definitely be sold.

Three Double Elvis paintings, left to right: one from MoMA, one from Wynn, the present lot

Frank Stella's Points of Pines (1959)

Frank Stella is a minimalist

Another leading lot is Point of Pines (1959) by Frank Stella, estimating at US$25m - 35m. After the Second World War, abstractionism started to gain poppularity in the United States. Yet, Stella adopted minimalism instead as his style, producing more “rational” works. A prime example is Point of Pines from 1959.

Now let’s talk about the seller David Martinez. Martinez is a Mexican businessman who graduated from the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education, a top university in Mexico. Then he went to Rome to attend the Pontifical Gregorian University, in the hopes of becoming a clergyman. However, he found this path unsuitable for him, thus transferring to Harvard Business school to pursue a Master in Business Administration and build strong connections with people from the business world there.

Pontifical Gregorian University

Upon his graduation, Martinez worked at Citi Group. In 1987, at the age of 30, Martinez established a hedge fund company named Fintech Advisory. The company mainly deals with issues like sovereign debt restructuring. In 2013, a financial newspaper quoted what Martinez said about himself- “I was part of the most important sovereign debt restructuring cases in the last 25 years”. And just three years ago, his property is estimated at US$2.4 billion.

Argentina has suffered from financial crisis for years which resulted in several sovereign debt contract breaches. In fact, Martinez was part of Argentina’s sovereign debt restructuring for a long period of time, making him a very influential person in South America. He has close connections with Nestor Kirchner and Cristina Kirchner, two ex-presidents of Argentina. The media often uses phrases like “close friends” and even “family” to describe the relationship between them. Rumour says that Martinez’s company has at least US$1 billion worth of Argentina’s capital.

* Nestor Kirchner and Cristina Kirchner are a married couple. They were the presidents of Argentina in 2003 - 2007 and 2007 - 2015 respectively.

Martinez (right) with ex-president of Argentina Nestor Kirchner (left)

Since president Trump’s inauguration, the relationship between the United States of America and Venezuela has deteriorated. In February this year, media sources reveal that the American government is considering sanctions against Martinez so that the Venezuelan government loses its financial support. It was also mentioned that Martinez’s company granted Nicolás Maduro regime a loan of US$300m dollars backed by bonds with a nominal value of US$1.3 billion. Martinez has supported Maduro with ways to raise funds on many occasions.

Martinez is very active in finance yet very discreet with his actions. His investments remain “unknown” and there is no accurate estimate of his wealth. Even looking for his picture online nowadays is not an easy task. That’s why he was given the name “Ghost Investor”. 

No. 5, 1948

Martinez is again quite discreet with his identity as an art collector. It is known that he is active in the art industry but as to what he has purchased, nobody can be certain. Rumours say that he is fond of contemporary art and admires artists like Picasso, abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock and British artist Damien Hirst.

In 2006, Pollock's painting No. 5, 1948 sold for US$140m at Sotheby’s in a private sale, a new mark for highest ever price for a painting until 2011. Sources from the art industry report that its seller is American producer David Geffen and the buyer is Martinez. Yet, Martinez’s lawyer issued a statement saying that the painting is not his. But many have said that they have seen No. 5, 1948 in Martinez’ New York apartment.

Portrait of George Dyer Talking

In 2014, Francis Bacon’s Portrait of George Dyer Talking was sold at Christie’s London for £42m. It was reported that Martinez was rumoured to be the seller, who first purchased the painting in the late 90s for around US$12m only. This evening sale at Christie’s will feature many more astonishing works. Stay tuned for more on the sale.

Andy Warhol (1928-1987). Double Elvis [Ferus Type]

Lot no.: 23B
Created in: 1963
Size: 208 x 134cm

  • Galerie Bruno Bischofberger, Zürich
  • Galleria Gian Enzo Sperone, Rome
  • Private collection, Turin
  • Private collection, Switzerland
  • Dominique Lévy Gallery, Geneva
  • Acquired from the above by the present owner

Estimate: US$50,000,000 - 70,000,000

Frank Stella. Point of Pines

Lot no.: 28B
Created in: 1959
Size: 215.5 x 278.1cm

  • Leo Castelli Gallery, New York
  • Private collection, New York
  • Dominique Lévy Gallery, Geneva
  • Acquired from the above by the present owner

Estimate: US$25,000,000 - 35,000,000

Auction details

Auction house: Christie’s New york
Sale: Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale
Number of lots: 58
7 - 11 May 2019|10am - 5pm
12 May 2019|1pm - 5pm
13 - 14 May 2019|10am - 5pm
15 May 2019|10am - 12pm
Time: 15 May 2019|7pm