A 40-square-inch portrait of Marilyn Monroe by Andy Warhol , made in the 1960s. sold at auction at Christie’s in New York Monday evening for a record $195 million, has become the most expensive 20th-century artwork ever auctioned for an American artist. The buyer who made the purchase Monday nigh was not identified. The previous auction record for a 20th-century painting was the $179.4 million paid for Pablo Picasso’s “Les Femmes d’Alger (Version O)” in 2015. The Marilyn, known as “Shot Sage Blue Marilyn,” was one of five versions in different color schemes that Warhol painted in 1964, two years after Marilyn Monroe’s death. The portraits were based on a promotional photo of Monroe from the film “Niagara.”Christie’s had described “Shot Sage Blue Marilyn” as “one of the rarest and most transcendent images in existence.” It also was described as “the most significant 20th century painting to come to auction in a generation.”
This particular painting has been exhibited in museums around the world.The portrait was previously owned by a succession of high-profile gallerists and collectors before being purchased by the late Swiss art dealer Thomas Ammann. Unlike most hyper-priced works sold at auction, “Marilyn” was not sold with a guarantee, which is a minimum price at which a third party or the auction house agrees to purchase the work.The money will be used by the charitable organization Thomas and Doris Ammann Foundation Zurich to fund health and education programs for children worldwide, according to a press release. Christie’s and Sotheby has a plan to sell more than $2 billion worth of art in the next two weeks.