Portrait of Marilyn by Warhol: four minutes auction, 195 million dollars

Reuters

This painting by the master of pop art became the most expensive work of the 20th century sold at auction on Monday evening in New York.

A famous portrait of Marilyn Monroe by American pop art master Andy Warhol, which sold for $195 million on Monday night in New York, has become the most expensive 20th century work of art ever sold at public auction.

The portrait of Andy Warhol was part of a collection put up for sale on Monday evening by the Zurich-based Thomas and Doris Ammann Foundation, named after Swiss art dealer and collector Thomas Ammann, a friend of Warhol's who died of AIDS in 1993, and of his sister Doris. 

All proceeds from the sale, or $317 million made on 34 of the 36 lots sold, will go to this foundation, which is dedicated "to improving the lives of children" through health and education, according to Christie's .

Painted in silkscreen ink and acrylic, "Shot Sage Blue Marylin" is one of five one-meter-by-meter portraits of vivid, saturated and contrasting colors that the New York artist produced 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 turquoise blue background.

In 1962, Warhol had already made works from the same photo of Marilyn Monroe: a canvas with fifty faces, "Marilyn Diptych", now on display at the Tate Modern in London, as well as a "Gold Marilyn Monroe" which adorns the walls of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York.

But 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.

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