Andy Warhol’s famous painting of Marilyn Monroe sold for $195m at auction, making it the most expensive piece of artwork by a US artist ever and the most expensive piece of 20th Century art ever sold.
The 1964 silk-screen portrait of the American actress, titled Shot Sage Blue Marilyn, is one of several paintings Warhol made of Monroe following her death due to a barbiturate overdose in 1962, and has since become one of the most iconic pieces in art history. It depicts a colourful close-up of Monroe with her hair yellow, eye-shadow blue and lips red, with a turquoise background.
The auction, of the collection of Swiss art dealers Thomas and Doris Ammann, was by Christie’s in New York on Monday.
Prior to the auction Christie’s stated that the painting is “one of the rarest and most transcendent images in existence.”
The painting went under the hammer for $170m with addition fees giving it a final price of $195m. According to Bloomberg, the winning bidder was US art dealer Larry Gagosian.
The previous record price for a piece of American artwork was $110.5m for a skull painting created in 1982 by Jean-Michel Basquiat, while the previous record for the most expensive piece of 20th Century artwork was set by Pablo Picasso’s 1955 painting Les Femmes d’Alger (Version O), which sold in 2015 for $179.4m, including addition fees.
“Shot Sage Blue Marilyn is the absolute pinnacle of American pop,” Alex Rotter, the chairman of 20th and 21st Century art at Christie’s, said in a statement announcing the auction. “The painting transcends the genre of portraiture, superseding 20th century art and culture.”
According to Christie’s, all the proceeds of the sale will go to the Thomas and Doris Ammann Foundation Zurich, which works to establish healthcare and education programmes for children across the world.
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