Who’s Behind the Flipping of This Famous Warhol Painting at Auction? It’s Up Again Next Week

It's the artwork's fourth time at auction in 23 years.

Andy Warhol Four Marilyns (1962) Estimate: $40–60 million. Image: Courtesy of Christie's.

Andy Warhol Four Marilyns (1962)
Estimate: $40–60 million.
Image: Courtesy of Christie’s.

One of Christie’s numerous star lots at auction next week is Andy Warhol’s Four Marilyns (1962), which, as New York Times reporter Robin Pogrebin points out, was on the auction block just over two years ago at Phillips, where it sold for $38.6 million on an unpublished estimate. At the time it was bought by Gagosian Gallery on behalf of Russian collector, Mikhail Friedman, then privately sold earlier this year for $44 million to collector Kemal Has Cingillioglu, who is a member of the European Advisory Board at Christie’s.

Now the colorful quartet is back in a big way: Christie’s will offer Four Marilyns again next Tuesday, on an estimate of $40 million to $60 million, for which we’re pretty sure we need a new term about dramatic price escalations for Warhol and other in-demand artists. Christie’s has guaranteed the work, and it is a highlight of its contemporary evening sale. “Hyper”-flip anyone?

Christie’s worldwide contemporary art head Brett Gorvy was forthright about the flip, telling the Times:

“It’s a great painting, and it was totally undersold the last time,” adding that there are only three of the “four times-Marilyn. This version is the best because it has the orange background.”

It’s also no secret that the pool of ultra-wealthy collectors—particularly a growing force of Chinese buyers—have increasingly been snapping up trophy-caliber works like this, and have no problem shelling out tens of millions of dollars to do so.

We took a look even further back at the trajectory of the painting, using the provenance listed in the Christie’s catalogue and the help of the artnet Price Database. It turns out the painting was sold at Sotheby’s, New York in November 1998 for $2.3 million, a fraction of the current estimate. Six years earlier, it was sold for $955,400 (£610,500) at Sotheby’s in London.

What a difference two decades make.

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