‘Iconic’ Andy Warhol Portrait of Marilyn Monroe Sells for $195 Million — a New Record

‘Iconic’ Andy Warhol Portrait of Marilyn Monroe Sells for $195 Million — a New Record

Published May 10, 2022
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As expected, an iconic Andy Warhol portrait of Marilyn Monroe has set a new record, becoming the most expensive 20th-century artwork ever sold at an auction.

On Monday evening, Warhol’s “Shot Sage Blue Marilyn” sold for $195 million, Christie’s announced in a press release. Ahead of the sale, the auction house said the silkscreened piece had an estimated value of around $200 million. 

The portrait had most recently belonged to late art dealer Thomas Ammann, and proceeds from the sale will “generously be donated by the Thomas and Doris Ammann Foundation to benefit charities providing urgent medical and educational services to children,” per Christie’s. 

Additionally, the buyer — who was not named by the auction house — has been invited to “nominate the charities to which 20% of the work’s proceeds will be allocated.” 

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“Shot Sage Blue Marilyn is one of the rarest and most transcendent images in existence,” Christie’s previously said of the 40-inch artwork, which Warhol painted two years after Monroe’s death.

​​The 1964 work — based on a promotional photograph from the 1953 film Niagara — is part of a set of four other portraits of the late actress, which each feature a different color for its background.

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Monday’s sale was heralded as a “historic night for Christie’s and for the entire contemporary art market,” Alex Rotter, Christie’s Chairman of 20th and 21st Century Art, said in a statement.

“The record-breaking sale of Warhol’s iconic portrait of Marilyn from the Collection of Thomas and Doris Ammann is a testament to the strength, the vibrancy, and the overall excitement of the art market today,” Rotter said. “This sale demonstrates the pervasive power of Andy Warhol as well as the lasting legacy that he continues to leave behind in the art world, popular culture, and society.”

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Until Monday’s sale, the 2015 purchase of Pablo Picasso’s “Les Femmes d’Alger (Version O)” for $179.4 million held the honor of being the most expensive piece of 20th century artwork sold at auction, per CNN.  

“It’s the Mount Everest of its era,” Andrew Fabricant, the chief operating officer of Gagosian galleries and a top dealer to the wealthy, told CNBC of “Marilyn” before Monday’s auction. 

“This was a once-in-a-generation chance,” added Fabricant. “Pieces like this just don’t come around that often.”