Andy Warhol’s Watercolor of a Charmingly Vintage Apple Macintosh Ad Is Coming to Auction—But Is It Real?

The painting is said to be part of Warhol's "Ads" series from 1985—just after Apple launched the Macintosh.

Macintosh (circa 1985), attributed to Andy Warhol. Courtesy of Woodshed Auctions.

A watercolor attributed to Andy Warhol of an early Apple Macintosh logo is coming to auction on Feburary 1 via—what else?—an online auction.

The artwork, which was said to be made circa 1985, is estimated to fetch $30,000 when it appears at Woodshed Art Auctions in Franklin, Massachusetts, and will likely appeal to both Warhol and Mac enthusiasts alike. “Warhol’s work appears effortless, but the discovery of working color studies like the Apple Macintosh painting reveals that each finished image is the refinement of trials and experimentation,” Woodshed auctioneer Bruce Wood told artnet News. “In a way, this reflects the growth of the products he’s chosen to depict.”

Wood said that there is little provenance information available for the work, other than that it came from a collection in Massachusetts and that the owner said he acquired it from a collector in London.

“We examined it and it looks right,” he said. “It’s signed twice—on the front and and the back. The signature looks good. So does the age and theme.”

The house’s estimate is based on the prices fetched by similar Warhol works that lack provenance. The artnet Price Database lists several similar examples of Warhol Macintosh works, including a signed graphite drawing from 1985 that sold at Phillips London for $66,550 in 2013. Another example, a silkscreen, sold for $910,000 at Sotheby’s New York in 2015, well above its $400,000-to-$600,000 estimate.

Numerous other versions in a range of media—including color screenprints on cardboard—have sold for five-figure prices.

The painting is purported to be part of Warhol’s “Ads” series from 1985, the year after the original Macintosh launched, reports the blog MacRumors, which picked up Woodshed’s press release. The site notes that the picture shows Apple’s rainbow logo, which the company used between 1977 and 1998.

UPDATE: Since the publication of this story, artnet has received reports contesting the authenticity of this work. One dealer who sells Warhol prints said that the artist did not work with watercolors in the 1980s and that unique works must appear with an authentication stamp. 

Bruce Wood of Woodshed replied: “The assertion that the only real Warhols bear an authentication stamp is simply wrong. New works come to market constantly, and the stamps were only given to those works which were brought to the attention of Warhol’s foundation prior to their halt of authorization activities. As for the media, the blanket statement that Warhol did not work with watercolors in the ’80s is also misinformed. He worked in water media, including acrylics. The semi-matte surface of the piece we are offering led us to identify it as gouache. We have not run spectral analysis on it, but the appearance may also be that of acrylic.”

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