A famous portrait of Marilyn Monroe by the American master of pop art Andy Warhol was sold for 195 million dollars Monday evening, May 9, in New York. It became the most expensive 20th-century work of art ever sold at public auction. This is “Shot Sage Blue Marilyn”, a painting executed in 1964, two years after the tragic death of the glamorous Hollywood icon. It left in four minutes at the exact price of $195.04 million, including fees, to a crowded room at Christie’s headquarters in the heart of Manhattan during the spring auction launch party.
Dozens of Christie’s intermediaries were present, hanging on their phones to take orders from buyers. But it is from the room, where the work was enthroned, that the last offer left, victorious. According to several auction specialists present on the spot, it came from the American art dealer Larry Gagosian, owner of the galleries of the same name, but it was not known whether he was acting on his behalf or that of a client. Christie’s, owned by the very large French fortune François Pinault, did not wish to comment on the buyer.
“Shot Sage Blue Marilyn” narrowly fell short of the $200 million estimate advanced by Christie’s before the sale, which does not prevent it from breaking the previous record for a 20th century work at auction , “Women of Algiers (version 0)” by Pablo Picasso (179.4 million dollars in May 2015). The absolute record – all periods combined – remains held by the “Salvator Mundi” attributed to Leonardo da Vinci, auctioned in November 2017 for 450.3 million dollars.