Christie’s Auction House set to sell Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe portrait

Christie’s unveiled Monday an iconic Andy Warhol painting of Marilyn Monroe that they estimate will be auctioned at a monumental value.

Pulling the curtain on Shot Sage Blue Marilyn, a vibrant portrait of the iconic film actress Marilyn Monroe, the auction house gushed over the artwork, touting that they believe the piece is set to become the most expensive 20th century artwork to sell at auction.

“When asked to recognize certain paintings, Marilyn stands in line with Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa,” said Alex Rotter, Christie’s Chairman 20th and 21st Century Art. “I think I see it in your faces because there’s something very, very special about these paintings.”

Christie’s played the reveal close to the chest, making camera crews surrender their equipment until the time was right to introduce the portrait. For the renowned auctioneer, this was an event that wished to drive the pomp and circumstance home, even remarking that paintings like this alter the market itself.

The Marilyn Monroe portrait. Photo by Dean Moses
The Marilyn Monroe portrait. Photo by Dean Moses

Rotter predicted that the Warhol epic could sell for around $200 million and publicized it as one of the rarest and most transcendent images in existence. 

“The most significant 20th century painting to come to auction in a generation, Andy Warhol’s Marilyn is the absolute pinnacle of American Pop and the promise of the American Dream encapsulating optimism, fragility, celebrity and iconography all at once. The painting transcends the genre of portraiture in America, superseding 20th century art and culture. Standing alongside Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, Warhol’s Marilyn is categorically one of the greatest paintings of all time and it’s a once in a generation opportunity to present this masterpiece publicly at auction,” Rotter said.

Alex Rotter and Marc Porter. Photo by Dean Moses

Before heading to auction in May, the colorful portrayal of the Hollywood starlet is set to tour the world, making stops in Asia. However, when the artwork does sell, Christie’s pledged that the proceeds will be dispensed to charity, and the funds are promised to benefit children in need.

“At Christie’s, charitable sales drive us. Philanthropy is core to our mission, and we are proud to have raised significant funds for foundations and non-profit organizations alike. As a global company, we believe it to be absolutely essential to engage in a dialogue of effecting social impact worldwide. Today, we could not be prouder to partner with the Thomas and Doris Ammann Foundation in the sale of Shot Sage Blue Marilyn as we support the siblings’ valiant endeavor to create healthcare and education programs that will have a direct and lasting impact on the lives of children for the better,” Marc Porters said, Chairman, Christie’s Americas.

Attendees scrambled to photograph the painting. Photo by Dean Moses