Andy Warhol’s famous Marilyn Monroe painting has been put into auction for $195 million, becoming the most expensive item of 20th Century art to be put on sale. The painting Shot Sage Blue Marilyn was made by Warhol in 1964 – inspired by a widely seen image of Monroe.
The Marilyn painting also sets the records for the highest-paid work of art in America. New York’s Christie’s was famous for being a symbol of the luxury art market’s health.
Before the said auction, Christie’s had written that the painting is “one of the rarest and most transcendent images in existence,” with a selling price of $200 million “in the region.” The auction concluded with a $170 million worth of sale price and increased to $195 added with taxes and fees.
The last record-breaking price for an American artwork item was $110.5 million for a skull painting made in 1982 by Warhol’s on-and-off friend and on-and-off competitor, Jean-Michael Basquiat.
The former record for the 20th Century work of art was placed in 2015 when a painting by Pablo Picasso created in 1955 – Les Femmes d’Alger (Version O) – was put on sale for $179.4 million, fees added.
In a statement in March, the chairman of the board of the Thomas and Doris Amman Foundation, George Frei, said the painting of Monroe “bears witness to her undiminished visual power in the new millennium.”
“Marilyn the woman is gone; the terrible circumstances of her life and death are forgotten,” stated Frei. “All that remains is the enigmatic smile that links her to another mysterious smile of a distinguished lady, the Mona Lisa.”
According to Bloomberg, the bidder who secured the art was US art dealer Larry Gagosian, an owner of art gallery chains.
Christie’s said all the proceeds of the sale would be given to the Swiss Thomas and Doris Ammann Foundation Zurich, which aims to organize healthcare and education programs for children all over the world.
Monday’s auction is the first among a series of auctions held by Christie’s and Sotheby’s in the next two weeks, broadly thought to test the luxury art market’s health in the period after the pandemic.
New York-headquartered firm the Fine Art Group’s founder Philip Hoffman said in an interview with New York Times that there is a “huge amount of pent-up demand” for art. “Everybody was waiting for the right moment.”
He added, “The right moment has come.”
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