Andy Warhol’s famous Marilyn Monroe painting sells for a record $195 million

Andy Warhol’s famous Marilyn Monroe painting sells for a record $195 million

Among some affluent investors, art is considered a safe investment because it doesn’t have the volatility of the stock market. But the sale that occurred at an auction in New York City on Monday, May 9 was a shocker even for the upscale art market: a famous silk-screen Andy Warhol portrait of actress Marilyn Monroe sold for a record $195 million, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Warhol’s Monroe portrait from 1964 depicts a promotional photo from the 1953 film noir classic “Niagra,” which was directed by Henry Hathaway and starred Monroe along with Joseph Cotton and Jean Peters. In the portrait, Monroe — who died in 1962 — is depicted with a pink face and blue eyeshadow on a blue background. Warhol’s portrait is known as “Shot Sage Blue Marilyn.”

WSJ Kelly Crow reports, “The sale kicked off New York’s major spring auctions and underscored the global strength of the high-end art market at a time of volatility in broader financial markets…. At least four bidders vied for the work, with dealer Larry Gagosian winning it after a roughly four-minute-long bidding battle in Christie’s Rockefeller Center salesroom in Manhattan. Heading into the latest sale, Christie’s had high expectations for the work, giving it a $200 million estimate.”

Crow notes that Warhol’s Monroe portrait “now ranks among the most expensive artworks ever sold.”

“The sale surpassed the $110.5 million paid in 2017 for a skull painting by Warhol’s protégé, Jean-Michel Basquiat,” Crow notes. “The sale also eclipsed Warhol’s previous $105.4 million record set in 2013 for his wall-size, metallic diptych featuring a man slumped in his wrecked automobile, ‘Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster).’ The overall titleholder remains Leonardo da Vinci’s $450 million ‘Salvator Mundi,’ which Christie’s sold to Saudi Arabia’s crown prince in 2017.”

“Shot Sage Blue Marilyn” was part of a series of Monroe depictions, and each one had a different background; other backgrounds in the series ranged from red to orange. The “Shot” part refers to an incident in 1964 in which artist Dorothy Podber saw the Monroe paintings in Warhol’s studio and asked if she could “shoot” them. Warhol thought Podber mean “shoot” as in photographic them; instead, she fired at them with a gun.

Warhol repaired the paintings that were damaged, but others in the collection didn’t suffer any damage — including “Shot Sage Blue Marilyn.”

Warhol died on February 22, 1987 at 58.

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