Image source: Christies
A Sale to Remember
In May 2022, the art world witnessed a seismic event that rippled through galleries, museums, and private collections worldwide. Andy Warhol's "Shot Sage Blue Marilyn," an iconic piece of pop art history, was auctioned off for an eye-popping sum of $195 million. This wasn't just a sale; it was a record-smashing event that drew the attention of the entire world and solidified Warhol's legacy as the king of American pop art.
Warhol had a profound fascination with celebrity culture, mass production, and the commodification of fame, all of which show through in his iconic depictions of Marilyn Monroe. He never met her personally, but following her tragic death in 1962 Warhol created his "Marilyn Diptych", a silkscreen painting featuring 50 repeated images of Monroe's face. Warhol used a publicity photograph of Monroe from the film "Niagara" (1953) as his source, manipulating it through various colors, a process that highlighted the manufactured nature of celebrity images.
This piece - the Shot Sage Blue Marilyn - has a very unique backstory. In 1964, Dorothy Podber, a friend of the photographer Bill Name, visited Warhol's studio known as The Factory. Without any forewarning, she asked if she could "shoot" a stack of Warhol's Monroe paintings that were stored there. Misunderstanding her intent, Warhol agreed, only for Podber to pull out a revolver and fire at the stack of canvases. The result was a gunshot through four of the paintings, but not the "Shot Sage Blue Marilyn" which was preserved. The painting remains a unique artifact within Warhol's body of work, especially given the later shooting incident in his life.
You can view the sale on Christie's here.
Curious about the prices of other Warhol originals? Check out how this compares to other works below.
Warhol's Highest Grossing Works
As we marvel at the monumental price of "Shot Sage Blue Marilyn," it's worth noting that this isn't an isolated incident. Andy Warhol's works have consistently commanded impressive prices on the art market. Let's take a look at some of his priciest pieces:
Double Elvis [Ferus Type] (1963) - $53m - May 2019
Colored Mona Lisa (1963) - $56m - May 2015
Coca-Cola (3) (1962) - $57m - Nov 2013
Sixty Last Suppers (1986) - $61m - Nov 2017
Race Riot (in 4 parts) (1964) - $63m - May 2014
Men in Her Life (1962) - $63m - Nov 2010
Four Marlons (1966) - $70m - Nov 2014
Green car crash – Green burning car I (1963) - $72m - May 2007
Triple Elvis (Ferus Type) (1963) - $82m - Nov 2014
Silver car crash (Double disaster) (in 2 parts) - $105m - Nov 2013
Shot Sage Blue Marilyn (1964) - $195m - May 2022