Warhol’s Marilyn, one of pop-art’s best known works, sets American artwork record at auction


One of pop-art’s best known pieces, Shot Sage Blue Marilyn, has sold at auction in New York.

Andy Warhol’s famed 1964 silk-screen portrait fetched $195 million (£158million).

The work was one in a series of portraits Warhol made of the actress following her death at her home in Los Angeles in 1962.

Held in the collection of Swiss art dealers Thomas and Doris Ammann, it was being offered for sale in New York by Christie’s auction house.

Alex Rotter, chairman of 20th and 21st Century art at Christie’s, said the painting “transcends the genre of portraiture” and was the “absolute pinnacle of American Pop”.

Pre-sale estimates had reached as high as $200 million (£151 million).

The sale broke the previous record for an American artwork at auction of $110.5 million (£89.5) set in 2017 for a 1982 painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat.

More on Marilyn Monroe

Built around a promotional photo by Henry Hathaway of Monroe, one of Hollywood’s best known stars, from the 1953 film Niagara, the painting is screened with bright colours over her eyes, hair and lips.

The screen-printing technique he used was a departure from the mass production techniques he was best-known for.

Each was painted on a background of different colours – red, orange, blue, sage blue (the one being auctioned), and turquoise.

Its title refers to an incident in which a performance artist shot at a stack of four Marilyn portraits in Warhol’s studio with a pistol, although Shot Sage Blue Marilyn was not actually struck by a bullet.

The painting has been exhibited in museums around the world until being offered for sale by the Thomas And Doris Ammann Foundation Zurich.

The foundation helps children with healthcare and education.

It was Mr Ammann who bought the painting, for an undisclosed amount, in the early 1980s.

After he died in 1993, his sister Doris ran his gallery until her death last year.

The foundation was established in their honour and proceeds of the sale will go towards its work.

Warhol died in 1987.

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