On Monday, an iconic portrait of Marilyn Monroe by American artist Andy Warhol sold at auction for a staggering $195 million at Christie’s, becoming the highest-priced 20th-century artwork to ever sell at a public auction.
Warhol’s “Shot Sage Blue Marilyn” was created in 1964, just two years after Monroe’s untimely death. It sold for exactly $195.04 million in just four minutes at Monday’s auction in Manhattan.
Early estimates calculated that the portrait would go for about $200 million at the Manhattan auction event.
In a statement, Christie’s described the portrait as “one of the rarest and most transcendent images in existence.”
Alex Rotter, head of 20th and 21st-century art at Christie’s, formerly of Sotheby’s, called the portrait “the most significant 20th-century painting to come to auction in a generation.”
“Andy Warhol’s Marilyn is the absolute pinnacle of American Pop and the promise of the American Dream encapsulating optimism, fragility, celebrity, and iconography all at once,” he said.
Even though it fell short of the estimate, the iconic artwork beat the previous record for a 20th-century work, Pablo Picasso’s “Women of Algiers,” which fetched $179.4 million in 2015.
The world record for art from any period sold at auction is held by Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi,” which sold in November 2017 for a massive $450.3 million.
Warhol’s recognizable silk-screen art is part of a series of portraits of Monroe that became known as the “Shot” series. The art garnered its name after a visitor to his Manhattan studio, which was known as “The Factory,” allegedly fired a gun at the canvases.
The “Shot Sage Blue Marilyn” portrait portrays her with a pink face, red lips, yellow hair, and blue eyeshadow set against a sage-blue backdrop.
The portrait was based on a promotional photo of Monroe for the 1953 movie “Niagara,” which was directed by Henry Hathaway.
The previous auction record for any Warhol art was $104.5 million, which was the winning bid for “Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster)” in 2013.