Marilyn Monroe portrait by Andy Warhol fetches staggering £158m at auction

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Warhol made a series of portraits of the actress following her death in 1962 (The Andy Warhol Foundation/ARS/DACS/PA)
Warhol made a series of portraits of the actress following her death in 1962 (The Andy Warhol Foundation/ARS/DACS/PA)

A famous portrait of Marilyn Monroe created by Andy Warhol has sold at auction for a price of £158m ($195m), setting a new record for a work by an American artist.

Called 'Shot Sage Blue Marilyn' it is one of a series of portraits created by Warhol following Monroe's death in 1962, and became a very well-known piece in pop art.

Held in the collection of Swiss art dealers Thomas and Doris Ammann, it was sold by Christie’s at an auction in New York on Monday.

Pre-sale estimates put it as being sold for $200m, but it eventually went for $170m with added fees giving it its final price of $195m.

The sale broke the previous record for an American artwork at auction of $110.5m set in 2017 for a 1982 painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Oxford Mail: Warhol made a number of portraits of Monroe (PA)
Oxford Mail: Warhol made a number of portraits of Monroe (PA)

Warhol made a number of portraits of Monroe (PA)

Alex Rotter, the chairman of 20th and 21st Century art at Christie’s, said in a statement: “Shot Sage Blue Marilyn is the absolute pinnacle of American pop.

"The painting transcends the genre of portraiture, superseding 20th century art and culture.”

The painting is built on a promotional photo of Monroe from the 1953 film Niagara, screened with bright colors over her eyes, hair and lips.

Its title refers to an incident in which a woman shot at a stack of four Marilyn portraits in Warhol’s studio with a pistol, although Shot Sage Blue Marilyn was not struck by a bullet.

Monroe was one of Hollywood’s best-known stars before her death of an overdose at her home in Los Angeles on 4 August 1962.