Christie’s, the internationally known auction house, had a record-breaking art auction in New York, Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014. By the end of the evening, the total amount was $852.9 million which included were two portraits by Andy Warhol (1928-1987) of Elvis Presley and Marlon Brando. Both of these works are considered very rare and were done in the 1960s. These portraits had been acquired for a casino owned by the German company, WestSpiel, in the 1970s.
The 7-foot-high Triple Elvis (Ferus Type) was created in 1963 in ink and silver paint. It sold for $81.9 million and depicts Presley dressed as a cowboy, wearing a gun belt, and ready to shoot. The image is repeated three times. The second Warhol portrait auctioned was a silkscreen created in 1966 of Marlon Brando. Four Marlons shows Brando sitting on a motorcycle and wearing a black jacket. This 7-foot-high portrait sold for $69.6 million. The image is repeated four times, equally spaced and sized, at the top left and right, and bottom left and right.
The all-time record for a Warhol work sold at auction was $105.4 million at Sotheby’s in November 2013. At 8 feet by 13 feet, Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster) spanned two canvases and was part of the artist’s Death and Disasters series. The work was signed and dated 1963, the same year as the Triple Elvis (Ferus Type) portrait.
Christie’s record-breaking art auction held in New York was not limited to works by Warhol. The life-size sculpture, Clamdigger, by Willem de Kooning (1904-1997) sold for $29.2 million, setting a world record for the auction price of a sculpture. The artist was born in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, but lived most of his life in the United States. He was known for his abstract expressionist style.
The painting, Untitled, by Cy Twombly (1928-2011) also set a world auction record. At $69.6 million, this was the highest price any work by this American artist had ever sold for at an auction. Untitled is part of a series of Blackboard paintings because the background resembles a classroom blackboard.
Christie’s was founded in 1766 in London by James Christie. In addition to paintings and sculpture, its auctions include more than 80 categories in all areas of fine and decorative arts, wine, jewelry, and other collectibles. The company has 53 offices and 12 salesrooms spread around the world in 32 countries.
Warhol’s will stipulated that his estate was to be used to establish a foundation that would advance the visual arts. The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc., was established in 1987 and the museum opened in 1994. The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, PA, holds more than 900 paintings, 100 sculptures, several thousand photographs and drawings, as well as wallpaper and books by the artist. Most of the works are by Warhol by some of them are collaborative works with younger artists and works by his mother, Julia Warhola. The museum, along with Christie’s record-breaking art auction in New York, reflects the important contributions of artwork and artists of postwar and contemporary styles.
By Cynthia Collins