In less than four minutes of bidding, Andy Warhol’s 58-year-old silk screen of Marilyn Monroe became the most expensive American piece of art to sell at auction Monday night at Christie’s in New York City.
The 1964 artwork, Shot Sage Blue Marilyn, sold for $195 million, becoming the most expensive 20th-century piece of art and the second-most expensive publicly sold artwork in history behind a $450 million Leonardo da Vinci, according to Bloomberg.
The painting, which was estimated to go for around $200 million, was saved as the last lot of the evening.
When auctioneer Jussi Pylkkanen opened bidding at $110 million, bidders, both on the phone and present in person, pushed the price up in $10 million increments before the winning bid came in from dealer Larry Gagosian at $170 million. House fees brought the final sale total to $195 million.
“We did sell the most expensive painting of the 20th century,” Christie’s specialist Alex Rotter told the New York Times. “This is a big achievement.”
Gagosian left the auction without commenting. It was not clear if he purchased the art for himself or for a client.
“This was Larry's twilight moment to cement history as not only one of the greatest gallerists but also one of the greatest collectors,” art businessman Larry Wasser said of Gagosian’s purchase.
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The previous record of $110.5 million came from the auctioning of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s skull painting at Sotheby’s in 2017.
Jean-Michel Basquiat’s “Untitled” from 1982 in acrylic, spray paint and oilstick on canvas sold for $110.5 million in 2017. Credit...Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat, via Sotheby's pic.twitter.com/wBwacdK3mZ— Robert Lewis (@jackedawes) May 10, 2022
The painting, along with 35 other lots in the sale, was consigned by the estate of Swiss art dealers Thomas and Doris Ammann. All proceeds will go to their foundation and support healthcare and educational causes.
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Monday's sale opened a two-week-long auction stretch, with Christie’s reportedly hoping to sell around $1.5 billion of modern and contemporary art this week and Sotheby’s hoping to sell $1.18 billion next week.