Pop artist Andy Warhol’s famed 1964 silk-screen portrait of Marilyn Monroe sold for $195 million at auction on Monday (May 9), 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.
The painting sold for a hammer price of $170 million Added fees gave it a final price of $195 million.
The sale broke the previous record for an American artwork at auction of $110.5 million set in 2017 for a 1982 painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat.
“We did sell the most expensive painting of the 20th century. I’m very proud of that…I think everyone is very proud of that. This is a big achievement that is not on me, but just on Warhol and Marilyn…20th-century works of art, American works of art, it’s the highest price ever paid, close to $200 million. Let it sink in. It’s quite something,” said Alex Rotter, chairman of 20th and 21st Century art at Christie’s.
The painting is built on a promotional photo of Monroe from the 1953 film “Niagara,” screened with bright colors 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.