An Andy Warhol portrait of Marilyn Monroe worth an estimated $200 million headlines this month's spring sales in New York that collectors say are among the most anticipated ever.
Christie's expects Warhol's 1964 "Shot Sage Blue Marilyn" to become the priciest 20th century artwork when the auction house puts it under the hammer on Monday.
Not to be outdone, competitor Sotheby's is offering $1 billion of modern
and contemporary art including the second helping of the famed Macklowe
Collection, during its marquee week in May.
"The excitement is certainly unprecedented," Joan Robledo-Palop, a
collector and CEO of Zeit Contemporary Art in New York City, told AFP, about
the buzz surrounding this season's auctions.
The 40 inch (100 centimeter) by 40 inch silk-screen Warhol is part of a
series of portraits the pop artist made of Monroe following her death from a
drug overdose in August 1962.
They became known as the "Shot" series after a visitor to Warhol's
"Factory" studio in Manhattan fired a gun at them, piercing the portraits
which were later repaired.
Alex Rotter, head of 20th and 21st century art at Christie's, has called
the portrait "the most significant 20th century painting to come to auction
in a generation."
The current most expensive 20th century auctioned work is Picasso's "Women
of Algiers," which fetched $179.4 million in 2015.
The auction record for a Warhol is the $104.5 million paid for "Silver Car
Crash (Double Disaster)" in 2013.
Other highlights offered by Christie's include Jean-Michel Basquiat's
"Portrait of the Artist as a Young Derelict" (1982), expected to go for more
than $30 million, and "Untitled (Shades of Red)" by Mark Rothko, tipped to
fetch up to $80 million.
The auction house is also offering three Claude Monet oil on canvases that
are predicted to sell for upwards of $30 million each.
- Rothko, Picasso, Richter -
"Every couple of decades you have a sale where the quality is so high that
you don't see all of this at once normally. This season really grew into one
of those unique moments," Rotter told AFP.
After selling the first batch of works from the Macklowe Collection -- the
most expensive to hit the market at $600 million -- last fall, Sotheby's will
auction the remaining 30 items when its sales open on May 16.
Highlights include Gerhard Richter's 1975 "Seascape," estimated at up to
$35 million, and Rothko's "Untitled" from 1960 that has a high-end pre-sale
estimate of $50 million.
Sotheby's said its modern evening auction of 19th and 20th century works,
including by Pablo Picasso and Philip Guston, is its "most valuable" in the
category in 15 years.
Picasso's "Femme nue couch,e" is appearing at auction for the first time,
and Sotheby's expects it to fetch more than $60 million. Other highlights
include a Monet view of Venice tipped to fetch $50 million.
Brooke Lampley, head of sales for global fine art at Sotheby's, said she
expects records to be broken across categories.
"The art market is very strong. That's why we see such an amazing array of
works on offer this season," she told AFP.