Andy Warhol’s 1964 silk-screen portrait of Marilyn Monroe has sold for $195m at auction, setting new records for 20th-century art and art made by an American artist.
Shot Sage Blue Marilyn is one in a series of portraits Warhol made of the actress following her death in 1962 and has since become one of pop art’s best-known pieces.
Held in the collection of Swiss art dealers Thomas and Doris Ammann, it was sold by Christie’s at an auction in New York on Monday. Pre-sale estimates had reached as high as $200m.
The painting sold for a hammer price of $170m. Added fees gave it a final price of $195m.
The sale broke the previous record for an artwork made in the 20th century, set by Pablo Picasso’s 1955 painting Les Femmes d’Alger (Version O), which sold for $179.4m, including fees, in 2015. It also became the most expensive American artwork sold at auction, a record previously held by a 1982 painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat, which sold for $110.5m in 2017.
“Shot Sage Blue Marilyn is the absolute pinnacle of American pop,” Alex Rotter, the chairman of 20th and 21st Century art at Christie’s, said in a statement announcing the auction. “The painting transcends the genre of portraiture, superseding 20th century art and culture.”
The painting is built on a promotional photo of Monroe from the 1953 film Niagara, screened with bright colors over her eyes, hair and lips.
Its title refers to an incident in which a woman shot at a stack of four Marilyn portraits in Warhol’s studio with a pistol, although Shot Sage Blue Marilyn was not struck by a bullet.
Monroe was one of Hollywood’s best-known stars before her death of an overdose at her home in Los Angeles on 4 August 1962.
Warhol died in 1987.