Record-breaking Warhol portrait of Marilyn to be auctioned in New York
“Shot Sage Blue Marilyn” par Andy Warhol.
A record is made to be broken and the New York art market is known for its incredible sales. Christie’s will sell in May a portrait of Marilyn Monroe painted by Andy Warhol and estimated at 200 million USD, which would make it the most expensive work of art of the 20th century ever sold at auction.
The famous auction house kept this information secret until the press conference, where Christie’s, which dominates with Sotheby’s the New York and world auction market, presented the painting Shot Sage Blue Marilyn painted in 1964 by Andy Warhol, “the most important painting of the twentieth century to be sold at auction in a generation”.
This image of Marilyn Monroe known by everyone, Maryline American actress and world icon with a tragic fate (1926-1962), belongs to the Zurich foundation Thomas and Doris Ammann (a brother and sister), which will devote the proceeds of the sale “to improving the lives of children around the world, through health and education programs,” according to Christie’s. The house estimates it to be “in the region of 200 million USD”.
“With 100% of the sale of a single painting going to charity, this is the highest auction for a philanthropic purpose since the Peggy and David Rockefeller collection in 2018,” Christie’s boasted. For the anecdote – and the legend – the four works Shot Marilyns, including this Shot Sage Blue Marilyn – a square of one meter by one – take their names from an incident that occurred in 1964 in the studio of Andy Warhol in Manhattan: a woman asking the artist if she could “photograph” the paintings (“shoot” in English) shot them with a revolver.
According to Georg Frei, president of the Ammann Foundation, “Andy Warhol’s image of Marilyn, which is certainly more famous today than the original photo from Henry Hathaway’s film ‘Niagara’, attests to her undiminished visual power in the new millennium. This “spectacular portrait separates the person from the star,” Frei deciphered.
“Marilyn, the woman, is no more, the terrible circumstances of her life and death are forgotten. All that remains is this enigmatic smile that brings her closer to another mysterious smile of a distinguished woman, the Mona Lisa”, Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, he estimated.
If the painting sells well at around 200 million USD, Shot Sage Blue Marilyn will break all records for a 20th-century art auction.
This would be an all-time record – all periods combined – for a sale of artwork at auction is held by Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi, sold in November 2017 for USD 450.3 million by Christie’s in New York.
Regarding 20th century works, Pablo Picasso’s Les Femmes d’Alger (version 0) ($179.4 million in May 2015) and Amedeo Modigliani’s Reclining Nude ($170.4 million in November 2015), were both also sold at Christie’s. Another example from the same series by the Italian painter, meanwhile, fetched USD 157.2 million in 2018 at rival Sotheby’s.
In the NFT market, despite the pandemic that brought New York to its knees in 2020, its art market has never been in better shape and is churning out record after record thanks to the city’s big money and increasingly young Asian buyers. Last fall, Sotheby’s put the Macklowe collection, the result of the divorce of New York real estate tycoon Harry Macklowe and his ex-wife Linda, virtually unknown a year ago, on the market for some US$600 million, For some experts, NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens), digital objects whose ownership is traceable, represent the new goose that lays the golden eggs of the contemporary art market, virtually unknown a year ago.