Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe portrait sells for £158m at auction

The image depicts the famous actress in vibrant block colours with yellow hair and bright blue eyeshadow.

Famous Andy Warhol portrait of Marilyn Monroe sells for £158m at auction in New York Christie's
Auction: Famous Marilyn Monroe portrait sells for £158m.

Andy Warhol’s Shot Sage Blue Marilyn has gone under the hammer for $195m (£158m), making it the most expensive work by an American artist sold at auction.

The famous image, created in 1964, is a close-up portrait of actress Marilyn Monroe, depicted in vibrant block colours, with yellow hair, blue eyeshadow and red lips on a blue background.

The previous record was held by Jean-Michel Basquiat, whose 1982 painting Untitled of a skull-like face sold for $111m (£90m) at Sotheby’s in 2017.

Warhol’s portrait is also the most expensive piece from the 20th century to be purchased at auction, according to Christie’s auction house New York, where it was sold.

It came to Christie’s from the Thomas and Doris Ammann Foundation Zurich, to which all proceeds from the significant sale will go.

The foundation is dedicated to improving the lives of children globally by establishing support systems centred on providing healthcare and educational programmes.

Christie’s said the piece was bought by an unnamed buyer on Monday.

“It’s an amazing price,” said Alex Rotter, chairman of Christie’s 20th and 21st century art department.

“Let it sink in, it’s quite something.”

Christie’s chief executive Guillaume Cerutti said: “This is where we wanted to be, clearly.

“It proves we are in a very resilient art market.”

Speaking ahead of the auction, Georg Frei, chairman of the board of the Thomas and Doris Ammann Foundation, said: “Andy Warhol’s picture of Marilyn, surely now more famous than the photograph… on which it is based, bears witness to her undiminished visual power in the new millennium.

“The spectacular portrait isolates the person and the star: Marilyn the woman is gone; the terrible circumstances of her life and death are forgotten.

“All that remains is the enigmatic smile that links her to another mysterious smile of a distinguished lady, the Mona Lisa.”