One of Andy Warhol’s most iconic works of art just made history. Shot Sage Blue Marilyn, the teal-hued pastel square portrait of Marilyn Monroe just sold for $195 million, making it the most expensive work of art from the 20th century. Christie’s first announced the silkscreened portrait was heading to auction back in March 2022. The auction house suggested then that it could sell for upwards of $200 million. And it turns out they were pretty on the nose. With its hefty price tag, Shot Sage Blue Marilyn‘s sale broke several records. It even snagged a pair of entries from Guinness World Records.
The first record is the aforementioned most expensive 20th century artwork sold at an auction. According to Guinness World Records, which celebrated the Warhol artwork’s milestone sale, Pablo Picasso’s Les Femmes d’Alger (Version O) was the previous record holder. That 1955 painting sold for $179.4 million back in 2015. The second record is more Warhol-specific. Shot Sage Blue Marilyn surpasses Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster) as Warhol’s most expensive screenprint. (We first saw this at DesignTAXI.)
Part of what makes Shot Sage Blue Marilyn so valuable is its origin story. In the few years following Monroe’s death, Warhol experimented with an intricate kind of silkscreening. However after using the technique on five Monroe portraits—each named after their respective coloring—the pop artist abandoned the technique. Further, an incident in 1964—the worst kind of apparent misunderstanding—resulted in four of the portraits being shot through the forehead. (Warhol attempted to repair the images but slight remnants of the incident remain on the canvas.)
Obviously, $195 million for a single square portrait—even one by Andy Warhol—is a bit of a nauseating number. It’s always staggering how much art and notable works will fetch—especially seeing records break year to year. Only time will tell how long Warhol’s records will hold.