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“Shot Sage Blue Marilyn”, a portrait of Marilyn Monroe by Andy Warhol, sold for $195.04 million at auction at Christie’s in New York on Monday. It beats the previous record for a work from the 20th century, held by a painting by Pablo Picasso.
In art, records are linked. A famous portrait of Marilyn Monroe by American pop art master Andy Warhol was sold for $195.04 million (€184.7 million), including fees, at auction at Christie’s on Monday May 9 in New York. York (United States). Pre-sale estimates hovered around $200 million.
“Shot Sage Blue Marilyn”, a painting executed in 1964, two years after the tragic death of the glamorous Hollywood icon, left in four minutes in a crowded room at the headquarters of Christie’s house in the heart of Manhattan. The auction house, owned by the very large French fortune François Pinault, clarified during a brief press conference that the offer which had won the “Marilyn” had been made from the room.
According to several specialists present on the spot, it came from the American art dealer Larry Gagosian, owner of the galleries of the same name, but it was not known whether he was acting on his behalf or that of a client.
The work beats the previous record for a 20th century work, “Les femmes d’Alger (version 0)” by Pablo Picasso sold at auction for 179.4 million dollars (169.9 million euros) in May 2015, and Amedeo Modigliani’s “Reclining Nude” (170.4 million, or 161.4 million euros, in November 2015). The absolute record, all periods combined, for a sale of a work of art at auction is held by Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi”, auctioned in November 2017 for 450.3 million dollars (426.5 million euros). euros).
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The auction record for a Warhol belonged to “Silver Car Crash (double disaster)”, a monumental canvas depicting a car accident, sold for 105 million dollars (99.4 million euros) in 2013.
No trace of revolver shots
For Richard Polsky, who runs a company that authenticates works of art, notably Warhol, “Shot Sage Blue Marylin” succeeds in combining two icons. “Marilyn Monroe was an icon in America (…) she is part of popular culture. And Warhol, it’s like the Beatles, every year he is more popular”, he underlines. “When you put them together, it’s an explosion, it’s like a chemical reaction,” he added to AFP, to explain the success of the work.
Painted in silkscreen ink and acrylics, “Shot Sage Blue Marylin” is one of five meter-by-meter portraits of vivid, saturated, contrasting colors that the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-born but established in New York, had made in 1964 from a photo for the promotion of the film “Niagara” in 1953. Pink face, blond hair and pronounced lipstick, the actress reveals an enigmatic smile, on a blue background turquoise.
Four of the five “Shot” of 1964 take their name from an incident that makes their legend. In Andy Warhol’s studio in Manhattan, The factory, a visiting artist, Dorothy Podber, had asked if she could “photograph” the paintings (“shoot” in English). Warhol had accepted, not understanding that she was then going to pull out a revolver and shoot four portraits. To the naked eye, no trace appears today of this incident on the work.
The portrait is part of a collection put up for sale by the Zurich-based Thomas and Doris Ammann Foundation, named after Swiss art dealer and collector Thomas Ammann, a friend of Warhol who died of AIDS in 1993, and his sister Doris. All proceeds from the sale will go to the foundation, which is dedicated “to improving the lives of children” through health and education, according to Christie’s.