Andy Warhol’s Shot Safe Blue Marilyn has just set a record as the highest-priced American artwork ever sold at auction. The iconic silkscreen was one of the many Monroe artworks auctioned by Christie’s in New York and sold for $195 million.
That stunning fee is the highest for any American artwork and the highest for a 20th-century artwork sold at auction, beating a record previously held by Pablo Picasso’s Les Femmes d’Alger (Version O) ($179.4 million) and a 1982 painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat ($110.5 million). As of yet, the buyer of Shot Sage Blue Marilyn has not been announced,
Alongside Mark Rothko, Basquiat, Pollock and Roy Lichtenstein, Warhol’s works are some of the most sought-after among collectors of American art, with his Marilyn series being some of the most iconic in the modern canon.
Warhol’s obsession with Hollywood darlings such as Marilyn Monroe can be traced back to his childhood. As a reclusive child, Andy Warhol pored over glamour magazines, cutting out pictures of Hollywood starlets for his movie star scrapbook. He even went so far as to send letters to Hollywood casting studios to ask for pictures that he couldn’t get anywhere else. In 1964, this fascination led Warhol to churn out over a dozen portraits of Monroe, each based on an image of the actress taken from the little-known 1953 film Niagara.
Speaking ahead of the auction, Alex Rotter, chairman of 20th and 21st Century Art at Christie’s, said: “Once you see the image, you will recognize that you’re actually much more familiar with Warhol’s vision of Marilyn than with the old movie shots from Marilyn herself.”
While the final price of Shot Sage Blue Marilyn is pretty mind-bending, it’s peanuts compared to the most expensive 20th-century painting ever sold: Willem De Kooning’s Interchange sold for $300 million in 2015. The hedge fund manager who bought the artwork also took the opportunity to grab a Jackson Pollock for no less than $200 million And here we are worrying about the price of milk.