Charlotte Foster


Warhol’s bullet-riddled Marilyn Monroe sets new record

Warhol’s bullet-riddled Marilyn Monroe sets new record

Andy Warhol’s iconic 1964 portrait of Marilyn Monroe has sold at a New York auction house for a record-setting $195 million. 

The sale of the painting, called Shot Sage Blue Marilyn, is now the most expensive work by a 20th-century artist ever to be sold at auction.

The image depicts a press photo from Monroe’s 1953 film Niagara in Warhol’s signature “pop-art” style, with the image being repeatedly used by the artist in his work until his death in 1987. 

It derives from his Shot Marilyn portrait series, which Warhol produced after an incident at his downtown studio when he prompted a collaborator, Dorothy Podber, to shoot into a stack of canvases.

The result for this 1964 work almost doubled the artist's previous auction record of $105.4 million, which was set in 2013 when his 1963 canvas Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster) sold at Sotheby’s.

With the sale, Christie’s auction house also rode a double-pronged pop culture wave of renewed interest in both Warhol and Monroe.

Streaming giant Netflix has released separate documentary series on both the actress and the artist, with both icons making a resurgence in the pop culture zeitgeist. 

Not only did Shot Sage Blue Marilyn bring a new artist record for Warhol, it has also become one of the most expensive works of art ever to sold at auction, surpassing Pablo Picasso’s Les Femmes d’Alger (“Version O”) as the second high-selling work to hit the auction block. 

That painting sold at Christie’s for $179 million in 2015, with the most expensive work to ever sell at auction being Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi which sold for $450 million.

Image credits: Getty Images

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