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Warhol’s ‘Marilyn’ auction nabs USD195M; most for US artist

NEW YORK (AP) – Andy Warhol’s Shot Sage Blue Marilyn sold for a cool USD195 million on Monday, making the iconic portrait of Marilyn Monroe the most expensive work by a United States (US) artist ever sold at auction.

The 1964 silkscreen image shows Monroe in vibrant close-up – hair yellow, eyeshadow blue and lips red – on a rich blue background. It’s also the most expensive piece from the 20th Century ever auctioned, according to Christie’s auction house in New York, where the sale took place.

The Warhol sale unseated the previous record holder and another modern master, Jean-Michel Basquiat, whose 1982 painting Untitled of a skull-like face sold for a record USD110.5 million at Sotheby’s in 2017.

Christie’s said an unnamed buyer made the purchase on Monday night. When the auction was announced earlier this year, they estimated it could go for as much as USD200 million.

“It’s an amazing price,” said Chairman of Christie’s 20th and 21st Century art department Alex Rotter. “Let it sink in, it’s quite something.”

“This is where we wanted to be, clearly,” said CEO of Christie’s Guillaume Cerutti. “It proves we are in a very resilient art market.”

The proceeds of the sale will go to the Thomas and Doris Ammann Foundation Zurich, which put the painting up for auction. The foundation aims to help children with health care and educational programmes.

Warhol created more than one image of Monroe; this particular painting has been exhibited in museums around the world.

Andy Warhol’s ‘Shot Sage Blue Marilyn’ is carried in Christie’s showroom in New York City. PHOTO: AP