Today in History... Andy Warhol dies



2015-06-26 11:53:03

Today in History... Andy Warhol dies

February 22, 1987: the pioneering pop artist leaves a legacy which endures to this day

In 1922, Andrew Warhola -known to the world asAndy Warhol - was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Slovakian immigrant parents Ondrej and Ulja Warhola.

Forty years later, Warhol's first one-man gallery exhibition as a fine artist marked the debut of pop art on the US's West Coast.

It precededa career which wouldencompass painting, avant-garde filmmaking, record production andbooks. Also during this time, Warhol's social circlecame to includebohemian street artists, intellectuals, aristocrats and celebrities.

 Warhol's Marilyn Monroe is one of her most iconic images

Twenty-three years after his death from surgery-related complications, Warhol's own celebrity remains forever entwined with the celebrities and iconic images which fascinated him... and often vice versa.

The performance of his artworks on the collectors' markets often has as much to do with the subject of the piece as with Warhol himself, if not more.

For instance, Warhol's portraits of Michael Jackson were never among his most popular works. One sold for a relatively low $287,000 in May 13, 2009, while another failed to sell altogether.

Until Michael Jackson died, that is. In the month followingJackson's death, a Warhol-Jackson realised over $1m in New York as collectors rushed to acquire pieces of the King of Pop's legacy.

Meanwhile, the most expensive Warhol painting remains another 'collaboration' between himself and an icon. His 1963 canvas, Eight Elvis's, featuringthe duplicatedKing of Rock 'n' Roll,sold for $100m.

 His 200 Dollar Bills piece sold for $43.8m, last year

So impressive was the sale that leading markets magazine The Economist described Warhol as the "bellwether" of the art market. At the time, $100m was a benchmark achieved only by the likes ofJackson Pollock, Pablo Picasso, Gustav Klimt and Willem de Kooning.

Unsurprisingly, Warhol is still a staron auction blocks to this day.And his speciality was not just icons, he also iconography.

Last year, Warhol's piece 200 Dollar Bills -immortalising life-size $1 bills in pop art, muchlike his iconic Campbell's soup tins - went to auction at Sotheby's, estimated at $8-12m.

The 200 Dollar Bills eventually commanded an final hammer price of $43.8m - an irony, one suspects,that Warhol himself would have enjoyed.

Today, Warhol's impact on the collectors' markets,whetheras art ormemorabilia, continues. He remains as perennial a fixture as Picasso and Klimt... or Elvis and Monroe.

For instance, a signed lithograph print of Warhol's iconic depiction of Marilyn Monroe - signed by Warhol himself - can be bought by collectors for 25,000 ($41,250).

Images: Sotheby's

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