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Andy Warhol's famed 'Marilyn' silk-screen sells for record Sh22.6b at auction

By Reuters | May 10th 2022 | 2 min read
Andy Warhol's "Shot Sage Blue Marilyn", a painting of Marilyn Monroe, is pictured on display at Christie's Auction House in advance of the piece going up for auction in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., March 21, 2022. [Reuters]

Pop artist Andy Warhol's famed 1964 silk-screen portrait of Marilyn Monroe sold for $195 million (Sh22.6 billion) at auction on Monday, a record for a work by an American artist sold at auction.

"Shot Sage Blue Marilyn" is one in a series of portraits Warhol made of the actress following her death in 1962 and has since become one of pop art's best-known pieces.

Held in the collection of Swiss art dealers Thomas and Doris Ammann, it was sold by Christie's at an auction in New York. Pre-sale estimates had reached as high as $200 million (Sh23.2 billion).

The painting sold for a hammer price of $170 million (Sh19.7 billion) added fees gave it a final price of $195 million (Sh22.6 billion).

The sale broke the previous record for an American artwork at auction of $110.5 million (Sh12.8 billion) set in 2017 for a 1982 painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat.

"'Shot Sage Blue Marilyn' is the absolute pinnacle of American Pop," Alex Rotter, chairman of 20th and 21st Century art at Christie's, said in a statement announcing the auction. "The painting transcends the genre of portraiture, superseding 20th-century art and culture."

The painting is built on a promotional photo of Monroe from the 1953 film "Niagara," screened with bright colours over her eyes, hair and lips.

Its title refers to an incident in which a woman shot at a stack of four Marilyn portraits in Warhol's studio with a pistol, although "Shot Sage Blue Marilyn" was not struck by a bullet.

Monroe was one of Hollywood's best-known stars before her death of an overdose at her home in Los Angeles on Aug. 4, 1962.

Warhol died in 1987.

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