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One of Andy Warhol's Marilyn was sold as the most expensive painting of the 20th century. Photo: Flickr
One of Andy Warhol's 'Marilyn' paintings was sold as the most expensive painting of the 20th century. Photo: Flickr

Andy Warhol's 'Marilyn' sold as the most expensive painting in the world

The blue background 'Marilyn' by Andy Warhol became the most expensive work of the 20th century.

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A 1964 portrait of Marilyn Monroe by Andy Warhol sold for $195 million at a Christie's auction on Monday, May 9, breaking the record for a 20th century work held by Spanish painter Pablo Picasso's, Les Femmes D'Alger (version 0).

The work Shot Sage Blue Marilyn, measuring 101x101 centimeters, taxes included, sold for the exact figure of $195.04 million, when Christie's estimate put it at a starting figure of $200 million.

The price is well above the previous record for a Warhol work, Silver Car Crash was sold in 2013 for $104.5 million, and in 2017, $110.5 million was paid for a Basquiat at Sotheby's, the record so far for a work by an American artist.

So far, the identity of the buyer is unknown, while the seller was the Thomas and Doris Ammann Foundation, created by one of the greatest contemporary art moguls and philanthropists, friend of Andy Warhol and buyer of a large portion of his works.

The new owner takes one of the "most important" works to come to auction in a generation, and is the "absolute pinnacle of American pop art," recalled the chairman of the 20th and 21st century art section, Alex Rotter, when Christie's announced its sale last March.

The foundation promised to earmark the proceeds from the sale — of Marilyn and 35 other works — for various projects they have around the world in healthcare, education, and promoting and improving the lives of millions of children.

"There is something special about these Marilyn paintings. It's magical, she has charisma," Warhol specialist Richard Polsky told AFP.

Warhol's Marilyns have become a symbol of American show business culture and an ironic reflection on fame and stardom (as Warhol demonstrated with Mao Tse-tung himself), but also a sexualized image of women.

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