Fine Art

Andy Warhol Record Shows Immunity Against Financial & Economic Turmoil

It hasn’t gone unnoticed that the financial markets have been falling. Let’s be honest — the financial markets have been falling harder than most expected at the start of 2022. It also hasn’t gone unnoticed that the calls for a recession are becoming more frequent and the recession calls are getting louder. There always seem to be some parts of the economy and in finance that prove to be enduring in times of financial stress. This is where a very fresh record-breaking sale of Andy Warhol’s work of Marilyn Monroe comes into play.

The first tenant of any financial ties of one asset or an entire asset class to the financial markets and to the economy in general should be that perhaps nothing is completely recession-proof! That said, this sale of Warhol’s Shot Sage Blue Marilyn for $195 million sure lends at least some credibility that the fine art market and some areas within the alternative asset class may be less tied to the daily market swings and to the broader economy.

Collectors Dashboard evaluates high-end collectibles as an alternative asset class. This means priceless high-end art from iconic artists are attracting the same capital that could have been invested into stocks or bonds. Many famous paintings or works of art now cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to tens of millions of dollars. Some of these are being purchased by collectors with very deep pockets. Others are being purchased solely for investment.

The iconic image of Marilyn Monroe titled Shot Sage Blue Marilyn by Andy Warhol set the all-time high sale record at Christie’s. All time record means the likeness of Marilyn Monroe by Andy Warhol is sold for $195,040,000 (USD). The masterpiece is the most expensive 20th century artwork to ever sell at auction, according to Christie’s press release:

“On 9 May, Shot Sage Blue Marilyn made history when it sold for $195 million during Christie’s 20th and 21st Century marquee auctions — making it the most expensive 20th century work of art to sell at auction. From the Foundation of Thomas and Doris Ammann, the work brings with it exceptional provenance from two of the most beloved art dealers in the past century. All proceeds from the sale will benefit the foundation, which is dedicated to establishing support systems centered on providing healthcare and educational programs for children across the globe.”

Warhol Shot Sage Blue Marilyn

Image by Christie’s.

Christies includes the provenance and exhibition history in the press release:

The portrait’s provenance is comprised of the finest gallerists from the 20th century, including Leon Kraushar, New York, Leo Castelli Gallery, New York, Fred Mueller, New York, Blum Helman Gallery, New York, and S.I. Newhouse, New York, Thomas Ammann, Zurich, ahead of being acquired by the present owner.

The work has been exhibited widely at leading institutions globally including the Guggenheim Museum in New York, Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, Tate Modern in London, Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid, Royal Academy of Arts in London, Museum Ludwig in Cologne, Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin, Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art, the Netherland’s, Stedelijk van Abbemuseum, Fondation Beyeler, Riehen and the Pasadena Art Museum.

Shot Sage Blue Marilyn was one of the rarest and most transcendent images in existence, now its forever cemented as the highest price sale. Collectors Dashboard noted these recent Andy Warhol sales. Recent sales before the record sale at Christies of Andy Warhol at Sotheby’s may not show a true comparison here considering the price differential from screenprints versus a work of this caliber.

Here are the other two Andy Warhol pieces that sold in this auction:

  • “Heinz Tomato Ketchup Box” was estimated at USD 250,000.00 – USD 350,000.00 and sold for $478,800.00.
  • “Flowers” was estimated at USD 15,000,000 – USD 20,000,000 and sold for $15,847,500.

Here are some other recent Warhol sales to show the array of pricing of his work:

  • Andy Warhol, Campbell’s Soup Can (Tomato Soup), the signed and dated 85 [1985] ink on paper was estimated at 50,000 – 70,000 EUR. The lot sold for 138,600 EUR on March 17, 2022. The figure is $152,307.77 USD.
  • Andy Warhol, Alexander the Great, the signed screened print numbered 2/5 was estimated at 60,000 – 90,000 EUR. The lot sold for 189,000 EUR on March 17, 2022. The figure is $207,692.41 USD.
  • Andy Warhol, Muhammad Ali (F. & S. II.181), signed screenprint 1978 1 of 150 was estimated at 10,000 – 15,000 GBP. The lot sold for 20,160 GBP on March 16, 2022. The figure is $26,574.87 USD.
  • Andy Warhol, Marilyn Monroe (Marilyn) (F. & S. II.23), signed screenprint 1967 numbered 71 of 250 was estimated at 40,000 – 60,000 GBP. The lot sold for 113,400 GBP on March 16, 2022. The figure is $149,483.66 USD.