Marilyn monroe andy warhol world record painting
Art

Behind the $195 Million Record Breaking Andy Warhol Painting

Ever wondered how much the most expensive piece of 20th-century art costs? That would be a cool $195 million ($281 million AUD) after fees – and no, it’s not an NFT. Meet Andy Warhol’s ‘Shot Sage Blue Marilyn’ that was recently sold at Christie’s auctions in New York. The painting is a portrait of Marilyn Monroe, celebrating the icon after her death in 1962, and has now become an icon in itself.

Related: World Premiere Picasso Exhibition Lands in Melbourne.

Marilyn monroe andy warhol with person standing

Image: Christies

Initially sold for a hammer price of $170 million ($245 million AUD) before additional fees increased the final price. This trumps the previous record set in 2015 when a 1955 painting by Pablo Picasso sold for $179.4m. If you’re wondering just who on earth has this kind of money? Well, according to reports, the answer is Larry Gagosian, a US art dealer and owner of a chain of galleries.

The piece is part of a series of portraits Warhol made of Monroe after her death, built on a promo photo of the movie star from the 1952 film Niagara. The title is a subtle reference to an incident in which a woman shot at four Marilyn portraits in Warhol’s studio with a pistol. The work encapsulates Warhol’s iconic pop art style – screened with bright colours, expressive nature and recognisable brush strokes.

“There’s no other painting that represents this diversity in emotions… and is like really capturing what the audience… are fascinated by, because it’s Marilyn… The painting transcends the genre of portraiture, superseding 20th-century art and culture,” said Christie’s chairman of 20th and 21st-century art, Alex Rotter.

Artist Andy Warhol died in 1987, aged 58, in his sleep after a gallbladder operation. The renowned artist is remembered for his revolutionary approach to art-making. His death followed that of Monroe in 1962. The prolific actor appeared in 29 films and was often hailed as a fashion icon and sex symbol of her generation. She tragically died of an overdose at her home in Los Angeles, she was just 36 years old. The artwork now serves as an ode to two icons passed.

Demand for the sought-after artwork, combined with the demand for 20th-century art being at record levels, is a significant reason why the artwork has sold for such a high price. So, if you’re looking to purchase some art in 2022, we recommend starting with some lesser-known artists!

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CONTRIBUTOR

Aimee O'Keefe

Aimee O’Keefe is a Sydney-based freelance writer with a background in fashion, entertainment and technology coverage. She completed a Bachelor's degree in Media and Communications at the University of Sydney and has previously worked with Universal Magazines and the Ministry of Style. She currently works as Content Writer for a leading digital marketing agency.