On 9 May, Christie’s 20th/21st Century sale week in New York concluded with auctioneer Jussi Pylkkänen, Christie’s Global President, hammering down Andy Warhol’s Shot Sage Blue Marilyn for a record $195,040,000, making it the most expensive 20th-century artwork ever sold at auction.
Warhol’s Shot Sage Blue Marilyn became not only the most expensive 20th century artwork to sell at auction, but also the second most expensive work to sell at auction of all time — just behind Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi, which sold at Christie’s in 2017.
Central to Warhol’s pantheon of pop icons, Shot Sage Blue Marilyn immortalises Monroe as the embodiment of celebrity, while cementing her image into the art historical canon. As an emblem of the American Pop Art movement, Marilyn represented the optimism and individuality and of the post-war Renaissance, fame, and celebrity. And yet, 60 years after Monroe’s untimely death, Warhol’s image has become so much more than the symbol of a single artistic movement. Marilyn is a masterpiece, not bound to time or place.