Havana Biennial

The Havana Biennial, which is more than 30 years old, will draw collectors and other visitors when it opens on May 22. Pizzuti said he plans to be there. On his first trip to Cuba six years ago, he bought an artwork made out of fish hooks by Yoan Capote within an hour of arriving.

“There’s a tremendous amount of talent,” said Pizzuti, whose museum is planning another Cuban show next July. “If Castro didn’t do anything else, he protected the artists, the athletes and the dancers. They live better than others there.”

Cuban art is perceived as undervalued, said Kaeli Deane, a specialist in Latin American art at Phillips auction house in New York. A November 2013 sale of Latin American art at Phillips included a special section dedicated to living Cuban artists. Valued between $2,300 to $25,000, all the lots sold.

“Those prices are quite low in the context of contemporary art,” she said. “There’s a lot of room for growth.”

Lam, Gonzalez-Torres

Prices are already rising. Sotheby’s sold a 1944 abstract by Wifredo Lam, who died in 1982, for $4.6 million in 2012, an auction record for the artist, according to New York-based researcher Artnet. Lam is the top-selling Cuban artist at auction in the past 10 years, with six of his works among the category’s top 10, according to Artnet.

Another top-priced artist is Felix Gonzalez-Torres, whose 1992 “Untitled (Portrait of Marcel Brient),” a heap of candies individually wrapped in light blue cellophane, was sold by Phillips in 2010 in New York for the same amount.

“You’re not going to Cuba to spend $300 for an undiscovered artist,” Magnan said. “Artists are trained. They know the American market. They’ve worked in the Cuban and international markets.”

Arrechea’s work is owned by New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Modern Art. In 2013, 10 of his steel sculptures -- his interpretation of iconic New York buildings -- lined Park Avenue in Manhattan. His work fetches prices as high as $300,000, Magnan said.

Abstract Pieces

Diago’s recent abstract works included various textures and colors, and his prices range from $10,000 to $100,000, Magnan said. Prices for works by Leon, who represented Cuba in the Venice Biennale in 2013, are $5,000 to $50,000.