Most expensive auctioned work of the 20th century: Warhol’s Marilyn achieves record 195 million dollars

Record at the start: A portrait of the actress Marilyn Monroe (1926-1962) made by US artist Andy Warhol (1928-1987) was auctioned in New York for around 195 million dollars (around 185 million euros) – making it the most expensive ever auctioned artwork from the 20th century and has become the most expensive artwork ever auctioned by a US artist.

The 1964 Shot Sage Blue Marilyn, which is based on a photo and shows the actress in front of a turquoise-blue background with yellow hair, red lips and turquoise eyeshadow, was auctioned at Christie’s auction house on Monday (local time) at the start of the traditional spring auction. It was initially unclear who bought the picture, which was previously estimated at “around 200 million dollars”. It comes from the Thomas and Doris Ammann Foundation in Zurich, which intends to use all proceeds from the auction for charitable purposes.

Only Leonardo da Vinci’s painting Salvator Mundi, which dates from around the early 16th century and sold for $450.3 million in 2017, has fetched more at auction, making it the most expensive work of art ever sold at auction. Pablo Picasso’s The Women of Algiers, which fetched $179.4 million at auction in 2015, came second.

The “Shot Sage Blue Marilyn” is “one of the greatest paintings of all time” and “the most important picture of the 20th century to be auctioned in this generation”, said Alex Rotter, responsible for art of the 20th and 21st centuries at Christie’s , said beforehand. “Andy Warhol’s Marilyn is the absolute pinnacle of American pop and the promise of the American Dream, encompassing optimism, fragility, fame and iconography all at once.”

The possible top record should only be the beginning. For around two weeks, the top dogs Christie’s and Sotheby’s, but also smaller auction houses, want to tumble further records.

Christie’s is already raving about its “best season so far” and Sotheby’s is offering, among other things, the second part of the Macklowe Collection, the first part of which set records at the autumn auctions last year – with works by Gerhard Richter, Mark, among others Rothko, Sigmar Polke, and Willem de Kooning. In addition, Sotheby’s has high hopes for Spanish artist Pablo Picasso’s (1881-1973) 1932 painting Femme nue couchée, which could fetch more than $60 million, and French painter Claude Monet’s (1840- 1926), estimated at around $50 million.

“We look forward to another billion-dollar sales week,” said Brooke Lampley, manager at Sotheby’s, at a preview of the offering. “It will be one of the largest auction series in our history.” Demand from sellers and buyers is very high. The median estimate for the artworks on offer is $6.2 million, with 21 works estimated at more than $10 million. At the past autumn auctions, the auction house set a record with $1.3 billion – and one hopes to be able to surpass it this time. The preliminary estimates are the highest since 2015. “This is a real sign of the ongoing and still increasing confidence in the art market on the way out of the pandemic.” (dpa)

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