Auctions Contemporary art Market USA

Warhol foundation to sell art worth $100m to boost endowment

Christie's will auction majority of the work online

Warhol's Self-Portrait in Fright Wig, 1970s (Photo: Christie's)

The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and Christie's announced yesterday (5 September) that the foundation will sell “thousands” of works from the artist's estate in an exclusive deal with the auction house. The New York-based foundation, which closed its authentication board this year after a string of lawsuits, plans to use the proceeds to boost its endowment, currently worth around $225m. The works are valued at more than $100m.

Christie's, which reported in July a 15% increase in the number of clients bidding online, said in a press statement that it will sell many of the drawings, prints and photographs through its website. Steven Murphy, the chief executive officer of Christie's, said in a press release that online bidding would bring Warhol's work to “new audiences anywhere and everywhere”. The New York dealer Paul Kasmin told the Wall Street Journal that the plan to sell works online “indicates a dearth of potentially record-setting masterpieces”. Others fear it might harm the market for Warhol's work.

Works will also be sold in the auction room, starting with a sale on 12 November in New York of more than 350 works from the estate. Private sales are also expected. Online sales are due to start in February 2013 and continue long-term.

Maxwell Anderson, the director of the Dallas Museum of Art, calls the foundation's plan "unconventional and a welcome step". He says: "Warhol abjured conventional thinking throughout his life, so it should not surprise anyone that the stewards of his legacy have done the same. The sale and transfer of much of his oeuvre should ultimately benefit the public through displays and programmes."

The foundation also announced that it will donate “significant works” to museums to mark its 25th anniversary.

The foundation, which was established in 1987, has made grants of around $250m to museums and non-profit organisations, individual artists, its sister organisation Creative Capital and the Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh. The foundation manages the copyrights to Warhol images and trademarks to his name and signature. Its authentication board ran up $7m in legal fees fighting a lawsuit brought by the US collector Joe Simon-Whelan, who accused the board of attempting to monopolise demand for the artists work. The lawsuit was dropped in 2010.

Works from the Andy Warhol Foundation will be sold at Christie's in November, including Jackie, late 1960s, screenprint on acetate and colored graphic art paper collage on board (Photo: © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. Courtesy Christie's)
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