Warhol’s $200 Million ‘Marilyn’ Could Test the Health of the Art Market


In 1985, salesman Tony Shafrazi designed a poster encourage his show Collaborative paintings by Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat. The footage showed the two performers wearing boxing gloves as if they were getting ready to fight each other.

Although amusing, the poster hinted at the complex relationship between Warhol and Basquiat; they were both rivals and collaborators and close friends. Decades later, this rivalry continues to play out in the market arena: a Basquiat skull painting in 2017 brought in $110.5 million At Sotheby’s, it eclipsed the sale of Warhol’s car crash painting for $105.4 million in 2013.

At least in market conditions, the last round is likely to go to Warhol. On Monday evening, at a charity auction at Christie’s, Warhol’s 1964 Marilyn Monroe silk screen, “Sage Blue Shot Marilyn” is estimated to sell for approximately $200 million, the highest price ever achieved for any American artwork at auction. (It may also surpass the global auction record for a 20th-century work of art, $179.4 million paid in 2015 for Pablo Picasso’s 1955 painting “Les Femmes d’Alger (Version ‘O’)”.

As we kick off the spring auction season in New York, Christie’s Monday night event is widely seen as a harbinger for the next two weeks of sales, while also being seen as an indicator of the broader health of the international art market that still remains the global art market. Covid19 pandemic.

“A huge amount has been held back for two years and there has been a huge amount of pent-up demand from new clients,” said Philip Hoffman, founder of The Fine Art Group, a New York-based consulting firm. Upcoming auctions could go up to $2 billion. “Everyone was waiting for the right moment, and the right moment has come.”

Christie’s sale looks set to show whether the highest quality mugs continue to dominate the high prices, regardless of the instability in the world – whether it’s an overseas war, a pandemic or a terrorist attack.

Still, the pool of buyers who can afford to spend more than $100 million on a painting remains small. And with so much blue chip art going on sale in the next two weeks, it’s still unclear whether there’s a sufficient population of wealthy collectors to absorb such big-ticket material.

“These moments are few and far between,” said Alex Rotter, head of Christie’s specializing in selling 20th- and 21st-century art. For Rotter, the 40-inch by 40-inch painting “the core of everything” is Warhol. “It defines its position in art history and popular culture,” Rotter added.

The painting was in the collection of Swiss sellers Thomas and Doris Ammann, and proceeds from the sale of 36 works Monday will go to their foundations supporting children’s programs. In an unusual arrangement, the recipient will have a say in choosing which charity 20 percent of proceeds will be allocated to, Christie’s announced Sunday.

In 1977 the Ammann brothers established a Zurich gallery specializing in Impressionist, Modern, Postwar and contemporary artists. After that Thomas’ death in 1993Doris continued to run the gallery. HE IS died last year.

Christie’s auction is unusual because none of the Ammann works are accompanied by a guarantee – the minimum price at which a third party or auction house is committed to purchase the work. According to Rotter, the Ammann estate wanted to maximize the charitable proceeds from the auction.

The lively Marilyn painting, which Rotter called “the most important 20th-century painting ever to go up for auction in a generation”, was based on a promotional photograph of the actress from the movie “Niagara”, which was part of a series of “Shot Marilyn” portraits by Warhol. . In 1964, a woman entered Warhol’s Factory studio with a pistol and fired at a pile of four Marilyn paintings. Rotter said that Christie’s canvas was not punctured by a bullet. There are five in total (one survived being shot). Other versions of this mug series are owned by American collectors Steven A. Cohen, Kenneth Griffin and Peter Brant.

Drawing attention with her bright blue eye shadow, blond hair and red lips, the work has been exhibited in institutions such as the Guggenheim in New York, Center Georges Pompidou in Paris and Tate Modern in London.

Jessica Beck, art curator of the museum, said, “Warhol’s selection of studio passport photos, the close cropping of Marilyn’s face and the color contrast draw all the attention to Marilyn’s lips, which merge between a smile and an expression of clenched teeth. Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. “The tension that gives this painting its magic.”

Christie’s judged most of the Warhol award with a pre-sale theatrical presentation; At the auction house’s preview, a red carpet led to a lit sign, “Warhol’s Marilyn,” before visitors entered the darkened room with the only painting illuminated in a new large white frame.

As auction week begins, Christie’s will present its 1909 Picasso bronze casting on May 12, “Female Head (Fernande) It was recently removed from access by the Metropolitan Museum of Art to fund new acquisitions. It is estimated at $30 million.

The following week, May 16, Sotheby’s will present the rest of the Macklowe collection, the fruits of the bitter divorce between real estate developer Harry Macklowe and his ex-wife Linda. brought in $676.1 million Last fall. On May 19, at the evening sale of contemporary art, the auction house will present a bid. 1969 Cy Twombly blackboard painting and Francis Bacon’s “Study of Red Pope 1962, 2nd Version 1971,” both had an estimated $40 million to $60 million.

It’s also unclear how the work of Black artists, who are currently in high demand, will sell this season. at Sotheby’s, “Beauty Examined” by Kerry James Marshall Estimated to be between $8 million and $12 million; Julie Mehretu’s “Emergent Algorithm (Manara Circle, Palestine)between $3 million and $4 million; and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s “11pm Sunday” for between $1.2 million and $1.8 million.

at Christie, by Toyin Ojih Odutola “In this dark channel (all you could see was what he could give you)” estimated at $400,000 to $600,000; Amoako Boafo’s “Yellow Dress” costs $250,000 to $350,000; and “The Intersection of Colors: The Experience” by Reggie Burrows Hodges for $200,000 to $300,000.

The Warhol-Basquiat relationship stands out even as Basquiat’s sisters present an immersive show of his brothers’ workFeaturing Warhol and Ryan Murphy’s documentary series, “The Andy Warhol Diaries,” airs on Netflix and details the artists’ history with one another.

After reading The New York Times’ review of the Shafrazi show – “Warhol, TKO [technical knockout] 16 rounds” – Basquiat fell into a sort of depression, particularly shaken by the suggestion that he had become “the mascot of the art world.”

On May 18, bright orange 1982 unnamed Basquiat Coming to the auction block at Phillips with an estimate of $70 million; The seller, Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa, bought it from Christie’s just six years ago. $57.3 million. At least this year, Warhol’s title looks secure in terms of the market.

“I love that they’re still in this boxing match with each other even in death,” said Beck of the Warhol Museum. “They’re still competing in the market and there’s still wild interest in their work and it’s still very contemporary.”



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