Andy Warhol’s 1964 painting of Marilyn Monroe has sold for a record-breaking £157.8 million at auction.
The colourful piece was released in 1964 – two years after the star’s death.
‘Shot Sage Blue Marilyn’ went on to become one of Warhol’s best-known creations, and one of the most iconic images associated with the actress.
The silk-screen portrait had been held in the collection of Swiss art dealers Thomas and Doris Ammann.
It went under the hammer in New York yesterday and sold for a huge £157.8 million to a mystery buyer.
Tense bidding was over and done with in a matter of minutes as the portrait’s potential new owners went up against each other.
Alex Rotter, chairman of 20th and 21st Century art at Christie’s, explained the sale marked a strong return from the pandemic for the auction industry.
He urged people to let the huge pricetag ‘sink in’.
He added: ‘We did sell the most expensive painting of the 20th century. I’m very proud of that…I think everyone is very proud of that.
‘This is a big achievement that is not on me, but just on Warhol and Marilyn…20th-century works of art, American works of art, it’s the highest price ever paid, close to $200 million.
‘Let it sink in. It’s quite something.’
All proceeds of the sale will go to the Switzerland-based Thomas and Doris Ammann Foundation Zurich, which works to establish healthcare and education programmes for children around the world.
The Shot Sage Blue Marilyn is inspired by a promotional photo of Monroe from the 1953 film ‘Niagara,’.
Its title refers to an incident in which a woman shot at a stack of four Marilyn portraits in Warhol’s studio with a pistol, although Shot Sage Blue Marilyn itself was not struck by a bullet.
The sale of the portrait set a new record for the highest amount an American artwork has ever been sold for.
Previously, a colorful 1982 painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat had been bought for £89,565,775 in 2017.
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