Warhol's Six Self Portraits come to Sotheby's auction valued at $35m

Six Self Portraits by Andy Warhol will appear at Sotheby's on May 14 in New York, representing some of the most important works in the artist's late oeuvre.

Warhol gave instructions for the order and exact hanging height of the portraits

Created for his landmark 1986 exhibition of self-portraiture, the works were the first of their kind to appear following Warhol's last great series of portraits 20 years before. Each a unique work, they are estimated to sell as a single lot for $25m-35m.

Six Self Portraits was the first sale of the 1986 exhibition, with the present owner purchasing them from London's legendary dealer Anthony d'Offay. They were bought for just $57,500, meaning the present sale offers exciting prospects for the vendor.

Warhol and the famous 'fright wig'

The exhibition later sold out entirely and has since gone down as a fabled event in the art-collecting world.  

"I realised two things: first that Warhol was without question the greatest portrait painter of the 20th century, and secondly that it was many years since he had made an iconic self-portrait," commented Anthony d'Offay.

"A week later I visited Warhol in New York and suggested to him an exhibition of new self-portraits. A month later he had a series of images to show me in all of which he was wearing the now famous 'fright wig'. One of the images not only had a demonic aspect but reminded me more of a death mask."

"I felt it was tempting fate to choose this image, so we settled instead on a self-portrait with a hypnotic intensity..."

Six months after the event, Andy Warhol died aged 58 in New York.

Keeping up the intense competition with Sotheby's, Christie's will offer Warhol's White Marilyn, one of his most iconic works, on May 13.

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