Today in History... Andy Warhol dies

In 1922, Andrew Warhola - known to the world as Andy Warhol - was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Slovakian immigrant parents Ondrej and Ulja Warhola.

Forty years later, Warhol's first one-man gallery exhibition as a fine artist marked the debut of pop art on the US's West Coast.

It preceded a career which would encompass painting, avant-garde filmmaking, record production and books. Also during this time, Warhol's social circle came to include bohemian street artists, intellectuals, aristocrats and celebrities.

Warhol's Marilyn Monroe is one of her
most iconic images

Twenty-three years after his death from surgery-related complications, Warhol's own celebrity remains forever entwined with the celebrities and iconic images which fascinated him... and often vice versa.

The performance of his artworks on the collectors' markets often has as much to do with the subject of the piece as with Warhol himself, if not more.

For instance, Warhol's portraits of Michael Jackson were never among his most popular works. One sold for a relatively low $287,000 in May 13, 2009, while another failed to sell altogether.

Until Michael Jackson died, that is. In the month following Jackson's death, a Warhol-Jackson realised over $1m in New York as collectors rushed to acquire pieces of the King of Pop's legacy.

Meanwhile, the most expensive Warhol painting remains another 'collaboration' between himself and an icon. His 1963 canvas, Eight Elvis's, featuring the duplicated King of Rock 'n' Roll, sold for $100m.

His 200 Dollar Bills piece sold for $43.8m, last year

So impressive was the sale that leading markets magazine The Economist described Warhol as the "bellwether" of the art market. At the time, $100m was a benchmark achieved only by the likes of Jackson Pollock, Pablo Picasso, Gustav Klimt and Willem de Kooning.

Unsurprisingly, Warhol is still a star on auction blocks to this day. And his speciality was not just icons, he also iconography.

Last year, Warhol's piece 200 Dollar Bills - immortalising life-size $1 bills in pop art, much like his iconic Campbell's soup tins - went to auction at Sotheby's, estimated at $8-12m.

The 200 Dollar Bills eventually commanded an final hammer price of $43.8m - an irony, one suspects, that Warhol himself would have enjoyed.

Today, Warhol's impact on the collectors' markets, whether as art or memorabilia, continues. He remains as perennial a fixture as Picasso and Klimt... or Elvis and Monroe.

For instance, a signed lithograph print of Warhol's iconic depiction of Marilyn Monroe - signed by Warhol himself - can be bought by collectors for �25,000 ($41,250).


  • More news on Art
  • Enjoy the read? Don't forget to sign up for your free newsletter with exclusive content

Featured products

Elvis Presley Authentic Strand of Hair
Elvis Presley Authentic Strand of Hair
Sale price£399
In stock
Fidel Castro signed certificateFidel Castro Signed Certificate
Fidel Castro signed certificate
Sale price£2,995
In stock
King Henry VIII Autographed DocumentKing Henry VIII Autographed Document
King Henry VIII Autographed Document
Sale price£55,000
In stock