Christie’s has announced that its May sales in New York will be led by Shot Sage Blue Marilyn (1964) by Andy Warhol.
With an estimate in the region of $200m—and notably no guarantee—Christie’s boasts that the picture is “poised to be the most expensive 20th-century work to sell at auction."
“Marilyn stands in line with the Mona Lisa, Boticcelli’s Birth of Venus and Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d'Avignon,” says Alex Rotter, Christie's chairman of 20th- and 21st-century art, at a press conference unveiling the work at Christie’s. He adds that a painting like the Marilyn could fundamentally change “not only Warhol’s market, but the market itself.” The last time one of the five 40in by 40in Marilyns sold at auction, in 1998, the estimated price was between $2m to $3m. It sold for $17m.
The painting, one of a series of five, comes from the Thomas and Doris Ammann Foundation Zurich, set up by the sibling founders of the well-known Zurich-based gallery, Thomas Ammann Fine Art. All proceeds from the sale will go to the foundation, which has pledged to use the funds to improve “the lives of children the world over” through charities that focus on children’s health and education.