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New York (AFP) – An Andy Warhol portrait of Marilyn Monroe, estimated to be worth $200 million, made spring sales in New York this month that collectors say are among the most anticipated ever.
Christie’s expects Warhol’s 1964 “Shot Sage Blue Marilyn” to become the most expensive work of art of the 20th century when the auction house puts it under the hammer on Monday.
Not to be outdone, competitor Sotheby’s offers $1 billion worth of modern and contemporary art, including the second helping of the famed Macklowe Collection, during May’s festivity week.
“The excitement is certainly unprecedented,” Joan Robledo-Palop, a collector and CEO of Zeit Contemporary Art in New York City, told AFP about the buzz surrounding this season’s auctions.
The 40 inch (100 centimeter) by 40 inch screen print Warhol is part of a series of portraits the pop artist made of Monroe after her death from a drug overdose in August 1962.
They became known as the “Shot” series after a visitor to Warhol’s “Factory” studio in Manhattan fired a gun at them and pierced the portraits which were later repaired.
Alex Rotter, head of 20th- and 21st-century art at Christie’s, calls the portrait “the most important 20th-century painting to come up for auction in a generation.”
The most expensive work of the 20th century currently auctioned is Picasso’s “Women of Algiers,” which grossed $179.4 million in 2015.
The auction record for a Warhol is the $104.5 million paid for “Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster)” in 2013.
Other highlights from Christie’s include Jean-Michel Basquiat’s “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Derelict” (1982), expected to gross over $30 million, and Mark Rothko’s “Untitled (Shades of Red),” tipped to hit to get. up to $80 million.
The auction house is also offering three Claude Monet oil on canvases that are expected to sell for more than $30 million each.
Rothko, Picasso, Richter
“Every few decades you have a sale that is so high quality that you don’t normally see it all at once. This season really turned out to be one of those unique moments,” Rotter told AFP.
After selling the first batch of works from the Macklowe Collection — the most expensive to hit the market at $600 million — last fall, Sotheby’s will auction the remaining 30 items when sales begin May 16.
Highlights include Gerhard Richter’s 1975 “Seascape,” valued at $35 million, and Rothko’s 1960 “Untitled,” which has a high-end presale estimate of $50 million.
Sotheby’s said the Modern Evening auction of 19th- and 20th-century works, including by Pablo Picasso and Philip Guston, is the “most valuable” in the category in 15 years.
Picasso’s “Femme nue couchée” makes its first appearance at auction and Sotheby’s expects it to fetch more than $60 million. Other highlights include a Monet view of Venice, tipped to raise $50 million.
Brooke Lampley, Sotheby’s global visual arts sales director, said she expects records to be broken in all categories.
“The art market is very strong. That’s why we’re seeing such an amazing array of works this season,” she told AFP.
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