As long as we’re on the subject of self-portraits, let’s talk about Andy Warhol’s face. It’s been in the news lately because of a couple of art auctions. Reuters reported on April 20th that Christie’s was expected to sell a 1986 Andy Warhol Self-Portrait,  “a large haunting depiction of Warhol rendered in deep red and black” for up to $40 million at its May 11th auction in New York.

Andy Warhol’s 1986 ‘Self-Portrait’. Credit: Reuters/Christie’s

“It is a rare event that a work of this grandeur and stature comes to market,” said Amy Cappellazzo, Christie’s international co-head and deputy chairman of post-war and contemporary art.

“With all the other examples in museums, it will be the last chance that buyers will have to bid on a work that shifted art history,” she added about the sale on May 11.

Then on May 5th, Reuter’s blogger Felix Salmon said, “But really it isn’t true.” He goes on to explain something about museum pieces versus private collections and something else about Warhol self-portraits that Sotheby’s sold last year, and, depicting this exact image exist  (emphasis his.)  “And so we enter the murky world of art-world rumor,” he said.  

Well I’m not going to that murky world other than to say the New York Times said the 1986 portrait in which “the artist’s face leaps off the canvas in blazing red” sold for $27.52 million.  I’m suspicious Felix Salmon exposed  Christie’s fraudulent claim thereby ruining its $40 million aura.

 But, the Times says, Christie’s  auction on May 11th made Sotheby’s auction on May 10th look puny because they only sold $128 million of contemporary art while Christie’s sold  $301. million.  The reason, they say, is because Christie’s had more of the New York school of contemporary art from its early days of the 1950s through 1970s.

“The triumph of Andy Warhol summed up the essence of a sale that amounted to a celebration of the icons of an era seen as a golden age.”

Fair enough.  Maybe I’ll take a look at a golden age icon in another post. The Times said an artist named Mark Rothko is one of them.  

Andy Warhol’s ‘‘Self-Portrait’’ was the occasion for a record 16-minute-long bidding match. The painting sold for $38.44 million, well above the $30 million high estimate. photo: Christie’s


UPDATE:   New Britain Museum of  American Art blog post Andy Warhol: Saving the American Art Market Singlehandedly?  says …

“The question then becomes not if Warhol has achieved a status that will carry others into the most profitable artists of the near future-but rather, a question of whom in fact will be next to keep the numbers up. According to Art Market Trends 2010, that artist is Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997).”