As part of the Warhol Foundation’s shift in focus from preserving and presenting Warhol’s estate to that of being a well endowed foundation focusing on grants and licensing Warhol’s images, the Warhol Foundation auctioned off Warhol works from its collection at Christie’s. The sale occurred in three separate sections which included photographs, paintings and works on paper, and prints. As Warhol was a social butterfly and an avid photographer, his photos represent a time capsuled “who’s who” of the 1980s celebrety circuit. Athletes, socialites, artists, and actors were all captured. With many selling for under $10,000 these photos represented an excellent value with an impeccable provenance. I believe that this is especially important as the Warhol Foundation shuttered its authentication board in early 2012 making it potentially difficult for anyone with a Warhol polaroid to get a stamp of approval in the future. Validating Warhol’s concept of 15 minutes of fame, photos of artists such as Mapplethorpe and Basquiat acheived much higher prices than some of the most photographed faces of the 80s with a photo of Brook Shields going for $5000 while photos of tabloid beauties Cheryl Tiegs and Tatum O’Neal failed to sell.
The Warhol Foundation originally stated that they will be deaccessioning close to $100 million of work so if they have their pulse on the market, this sale represents 17% of their booty with much more to come. During their original press release they estimated Warhol’s polaroid Self Portrait in Fright Wig as being valued from $15,000 to $20,000. As seen below, the work realized $50,000 against a final estimate of $12,000 to 18,000 indicating that the Warhol Foundation may have been conservative with their final tally. The press release stated,
Christie’s is pleased to announce the results of Andy Warhol at Christie’s, the three single-artist sales of Photographs, Prints, and Paintings and Works on Paper held at Christie’s New York on November 12, 2012, to benefit The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Proceeds from this first auction in a multi-year, multi-platform partnership between the Foundation and Christie’s realized a total of $17,017,050 for the Foundation’s endowment, enabling the institution to ensure and expand its long-term support of the visual arts. The sale achieved sell-through rates of 91% by lot and 82% by value.
Leading the sale of 354 works by Andy Warhol were Endangered Species: San Francisco Silverspot which had an estimate of $1,000,000 – $1,500,000 and sold for $1,258,500, followed by Endangered Species: Bighorn Ram, estimated at $700,000 – $1,000,000 which achieved $842,500, and Jackie, which more than doubled its high estimate of $300,000, realizing $626,500. Among the diverse expanse of works offered in today’s sale we saw a strong demand for unique photographs and prints with many exceeding high estimates, including Self-Portrait in Fright Wig, estimated at $12,000 – $18,000, which achieved $50,000; Enna Jetticks, estimated at $50,000 – $70,000 which reached $206,500 and Dove, estimated at $60,000-$80,000 and selling for $266,500.