Andy Warhol Painting breaks auction record for American artists

NEW YORK — Andy Warhol’s “Shot Sage Blue Marilyn” sold for a staggering $195 million Monday, making the iconic portrait of Marilyn Monroe the most expensive work by an American artist ever sold at auction.

The silkscreen image from 1964 shows Monroe in vibrant close-up — hair yellow, eyeshadow blue, and lips red — on a rich blue background. It’s also the most expensive 20th-century piece ever auctioned, according to New York auction house Christie’s, where the sale took place.

The Warhol sale dethroned the previous record holder and another modern master, Jean-Michel Basquiat, whose 1982 painting “Untitled” of a skull-like face sold for a record $110.5 million at Sotheby’s in 2017.

Christie’s said an unnamed buyer made the purchase Monday night. When the auction was announced earlier this year, they estimated it could raise as much as $200 million.

“It’s a great prize,” said Alex Rotter, president of the art department at Christie’s 20th and 21st Century. “Let it sink in, it’s quite something.”

“This is clearly where we wanted to be,” said Guillaume Cerutti, CEO of Christie’s. “It proves that we are in a very resilient art market.”

The proceeds of the sale will go to the Thomas and Doris Ammann Foundation Zurich, which has put the painting up for auction. The foundation aims to help children with health care and educational programs.

Warhol created more than one image of Monroe; this particular painting has been exhibited in museums around the world.

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