Marilyn Monroe is back in the news; not for her embellished sheer gown donned by reality TV star Kim Kardashian but owing to pop artist Andy Warhol’s portrait of the blonde bombshell. Stealing the spot for the most expensive piece of artwork by an American artist ever sold at auction is Andy Warhol’s 1964 silkscreen of the actress’s face, “Shot Sage Blue Marilyn.” The colorful silkscreen sold for a record-breaking $195 million to an unknown buyer at Christie’s. Art Daily reported, “We did sell the most expensive painting of the 20th century,” said Christie’s specialist Alex Rotter. “This is a big achievement.” Warhol’s 40-inch-square painting, an icon of pop art, depicts a blonde Monroe wearing sage blue eye shadow that matches the painting’s background color.
The artwork overtook a $110.5 million painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat. It was purchased by Japanese billionaire and fervent art collector Yusaku Maezawa (founder of Japan’s largest online fashion retail website Zozotown) at a Sotheby’s auction in 2017. About Monroe’s portrait, Alex Rotter, chairman of Christie’s 20th and 21st-century art departments, said, “Andy Warhol’s Marilyn is the absolute pinnacle of American Pop and the promise of the American Dream encapsulating optimism, fragility, celebrity, and iconography all at once.” He further added, “Standing alongside Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, and Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, Warhol’s Marilyn is categorically one of the greatest paintings of all time…Whenever a painting like this comes to market, it changes the market, and not just for Warhol.”
As per Forbes, Warhol created “Shot Sage Blue Marilyn” two years after Monroe’s sudden death. He used a promotional photo from the actor’s 1953 film Niagara and gave the actress a pink face, blue eye shadow, and red lips against a sage background.