An Andy Warhol portrait of Marilyn Monroe worth an estimated $200 million headlines this month’s spring sales in New York, which collectors say are among the most eagerly awaited ever .
Christie’s Awaits 1964 by Warhol Blow Sage Blue Marilyn to become the most expensive work of art of the 20th century when the auction house puts it under the hammer on Monday.
Not to be outdone, competitor Sotheby’s is offering $1 billion worth of modern and contemporary art, including the second portion of the famed Macklowe Collection, during its flagship week in May.
“The excitement is certainly unprecedented,” Joan Robledo-Palop, collector and CEO of Zeit Contemporary Art in New York, told AFP of the buzz surrounding this season’s auctions.
The 100 centimeter by 100 centimeter Warhol serigraph is part of a series of portraits the pop artist made of Monroe after she died of a drug overdose in August 1962.
They became known as Shoot series after a visitor to Warhol’s “Factory” studio in Manhattan shot them, piercing the portraits which were later repaired.
Alex Rotter, head of 20th and 21st century art at Christie’s, called the portrait “the most important 20th century painting to come to auction in a generation”.
The most expensive current work of the 20th century sold at auction is that of Picasso Women of Algierswhich grossed $179.4 million in 2015.
The auction record for a Warhol is $104.5 million paid Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster) in 2013.
Other highlights from Christie’s include Jean-Michel Basquiat Portrait of the artist as a young wreck (1982), is expected to cost over $30 million, and Untitled (shades of red) by Mark Rothko, tipped to bring in up to $80 million.
The auction house is also offering three oils on canvas by Claude Monet that are expected to sell for more than $30 million each.
Rothko, Picasso, Richter
“Every two decades you have a sale where the quality is so high that you don’t normally see it all at once. This season has really become one of those unique moments,” Rotter told AFP.
After selling the first batch of works from the Macklowe collection – the most expensive to come on the market at $600 million – last fall, Sotheby’s will auction the remaining 30 items when it opens its sales. May 16.
Highlights include 1975 by Gerhard Richter Seascapeestimated at up to $35 million, and Rothko’s Untitled from 1960 that has a high-end pre-sale estimate of $50 million.
Sotheby’s said its evening modern auction of 19th- and 20th-century works, including by Pablo Picasso and Philip Guston, was its “most valuable” in the category for 15 years.
by Picasso Naked woman lying is auctioned for the first time and Sotheby’s expects it to fetch over $60 million. Other highlights include a Monet view of Venice that is expected to fetch $50 million.
Brooke Lampley, sales manager for global fine art at Sotheby’s, said she expects records to be broken in all categories.
“The art market is very strong. That’s why we see such a range of works on offer this season,” she told AFP.