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Warhol's 'Orange Marilyn' fetches $17.3 million at auction

May 15, 1998
Web posted at: 3:14 p.m. EDT (1914 GMT)

NEW YORK (CNN) -- An Andy Warhol silk-screen print, "Orange Marilyn," sold at auction Thursday night at Sotheby's for $17.3 million, the highest price ever paid for any work by the Pop Art icon.

The winning bid came from an anonymous telephone bidder and was more than three times the previous high price, $4.7 million, paid for a Warhol work. That work, "Red Shot Marilyn, was also a silk-screen. It was sold in 1989.

"Orange Marilyn" was expected to fetch between $4 million and $6 million. A spokesman for Sotheby's called the sale "poetic."

"I'm extremely happy, but not surprised," the spokesman said. He described the Warhol as "one of the key icons of the 20th century and could someday be worth as much as a de Kooning or a Picasso." Works by Willem de Kooning, the American pioneer of Abstract Expressionism, and Pablo Picasso, the Spanish master, are the most valued of the modern art movement.

Warhol's 1964 silk-screen was based on a 1952 publicity photograph of Marilyn Monroe. It has become one of Warhol's most widely recognized works. It was previously owned by Karl Stroher, a German collector.

The Warhol work was not the only piece at Sotheby's to sell for a record price. Lucian Freud's "Large Interior WWII (After Watteau )" sold for $5.8 million, far surpassing the previous high of $1.5 million paid for a Freud. A group portrait painted between 1981 and 1985, the work was expected to fetch $2.5 million to $3.5 million.

Sales at the auction totaled $35.7 million, the strongest opening night sale of contemporary art at Sotheby's since 1990, the auction house said.

Other sales of contemporary art included works by Mark Rothko, Alexander Calder, Jasper Johns and Roy Lichtenstein.

Reuters contributed to this report.


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