Warhol first self portrait soars to $38m at auction

Andy Warhol’s very first self portrait injected the energy that been missing back into spring art sales on Wednesday when it soared to $38,44-million at Christie’s post-war and contemporary art auction.

The sale totaled $301,68-million, beating the high pre-sale estimate, and set records for several artists. Only three of the 65 works on offer failed to sell, for an extraordinarily high sell-through rate of 95%.

The total was Christie’s highest since May 2008, just before the financial crisis sent prices into a steep decline.

The auction was dominated by eight Warhols, which took in a total of $91-million.

But the star was Self-Portrait, a four-panel acrylic silk-screen from 1963-64 in hues of blue depicting the pop artist wearing a trench coat and sunglasses.

It was sold by the family of Detroit collector Florence Barron, who commissioned the work for $1 600 nearly half a century ago, making payments on an installment plan.

Two determined bidders competed in a protracted, 16-minute bidding war, with a private European collector prevailing.

“I really believe my mother-in-law would have been ecstatic,” Nora Barron said after the sale.

“She loved the picture, she loved Andy and I truly believe she would have loved tonight,” she told Reuters.

The $38,44-million sale price was the highest to date for a Warhol portrait.

Christie’s officials were elated with the results, which came after a series of mostly flaccid sales at the auction powerhouses over the past two weeks.

Laura Paulson, Christie’s senior international director, said that while the art market “hasn’t yet fully returned to what it once was”, the sale spoke to “the depth of energy and interest if the quality is there”.

Brett Gorvy, international co-head of contemporary and post-war art, said the strong prices were “indicative of a market where estimates are considered, and fair”.

“We approached this sale with conservative estimates,” he added.

Other highlights included an untitled Mark Rothko from 1961 which fetched $33,7-million, soaring far past the high estimate of $22-million, and a Warhol self-portrait from 1986, among his last, which sold for $27,5-million, missing the $30-million low estimate.

Records were set for Cy Twombly, whose untitled 1967 work sold for $15,20-million; and Cindy Sherman, whose 1981 untitled colour print fetched $3,89-million, breaking the record for any photograph at auction.

Richard Diebenkorn and Urs Fischer also set new records.

Francis Bacon’s triptych, Three Studies for Self-Portrait sold for $25,3-million, right around the estimated price.

While Christie’s said the sale saw strong US bidding, who made up 61% of the buyers, four of the six top-priced lots were bought by European collectors.

The sales wrap up on Thursday at Phillips de Pury’s contemporary art sale, led by Warhol’s Liz #5, which is estimated at $20-million to $30-million. – Reuters

Chris Michaud
Chris Michaud works from Boston. Founder & CEO, Felix, @meetfelix; Senior Fellow, Continuum Chris Michaud has over 154 followers on Twitter.
Advertisting

Salie-Hlophe accuses Goliath of lying and racism

In response to Goliath’s gross misconduct complaint, Salie-Hlophe says Goliath has ‘an unhealthy obsession with my marriage’

Treasury is still seeking SAA funds

The government has committed an additional R2-billion to the airline, but has yet to pay it out

‘There were no marks on his neck’, Neil Aggett inquest...

The trade unionist’s partner at the time he was detained at John Vorster Square says she now believes his death was not a suicide
Advertising

Press Releases

Boosting safety for cargo and drivers

The use of a telematics system for fleet vehicles has proved to be an important tool in helping to drive down costs and improve efficiency, says MiX Telematics Africa.

Silencing the guns and firearms amnesty

Silencing the guns and firearms amnesty

Gender-based violence is an affront to our humanity

Gender-based violence is an affront to our humanity

UK-Africa investment summit 2020: Think Africa Invest SA

UK-Africa investment summit 2020: Think Africa Invest SA

MTN unveils TikTok bundles

Customised MTN TikTok data bundles are available to all prepaid customers on *136*2#.

Marketers need to reinvent themselves

Marketing is an exciting discipline, offering the perfect fit for individuals who are equally interested in business, human dynamics and strategic thinking. But the...

Upskill yourself to land your dream job in 2020

If you received admission to an IIE Higher Certificate qualification, once you have graduated, you can articulate to an IIE Diploma and then IIE Bachelor's degree at IIE Rosebank College.

South Africans unsure of what to expect in 2020

Almost half (49%) of South Africans, 15 years and older, agree or strongly agree that they view 2020 with optimism.