Shot Sage Blue Marilyn by Andy Warhol is being put up for auction by Christie’s New York this May. Its current estimated price is $200 million USD, and if realized will be the most expensive 20th-century artwork ever to sell at auction.
Warhol first began creating silkscreens of legendary American actress Marilyn Monroe following her death in August 1962 and would create reproductions of her visage multiple times in bright colors, often with the features somewhat askew.
Shot Sage Blue Marilyn is part of a collection of four silkscreen canvases named The Shot Marilyns. An American performance artist by the name of Dorothy Podber visited Warhol’s infamous studio Silver Factory in 1964, and upon seeing the Marilyn paintings stacked against the walls, asked the artist if she could shoot them. Assuming Podbar was asking if she could photograph the paintings, Warhol obliged. To Warhol’s surprise, Podber instead puts on a pair of black gloves, draws a revolver from her purse, and shoots through the stack of Marilyn Monroe portraits in the forehead. A fifth painting was created as part of the series but was not included in the stack. Warhol later paints over the bullet holes, and it’s said Podber was forever barred from The Factory.
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The Sage Blue Marilyn comes from Thomas and Doris Ammann Foundation Zurich and all proceeds from the sale will benefit the foundation, aimed at improving “improving the lives of children the world over by establishing support systems centered on providing healthcare and educational programs.”
“The most significant painting to come to auction in a generation, Andy Warhol’s Marilyn is the absolute pinnacle of American Pop and the promise of the American Dream encapsulating optimism, fragility, celebrity and iconography all at once,” said Alex Rotter, Christie’s Charmain,20th and 21st Century Art in a Christie’s announcement. “The painting transcends the genre of portraiture in America, superseding 20th-century art and culture. Standing alongside Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, Warhol’s Marilyn is categorically one of the greatest paintings of all time and a once in a generation opportunity to present this masterpiece publicly at auction.”