10 Facts About Andy Warhol's Dollar Sign

Written by - Lucy Howie
Dollar Sign 9 by Andy Warhol Dollar Sign 9 © Andy Warhol, 1982
Toni Clayton

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In 1981 Andy Warhol began a body of work that focused on the dollar sign and resulted in drawings and paintings as well as this series of screen prints titled Dollar Sign.

1.

The Dollar Signs were first exhibited in 1982.

Dollar (F. & S. II.278) by Andy WarholDollar (F. & S. II.278) © Andy Warhol, 1982

The Dollar Signs were first exhibited in January 1982 at Leo Castelli Gallery in New York.

2.

These prints were timely.

Dollar Sign 9 by Andy WarholDollar Sign 9 © Andy Warhol, 1982

Created during a period of American history commonly associated with the commercialism and materialism of the Raegan era, Warhol’s Dollar Signs could not have been more timely or prescient.

3.

Warhol extolled the connection between art and its financial value.

Dollar Sign Quad (F. & S. II.281) by Andy WarholDollar Sign Quad (F. & S. II.281) © Andy Warhol, 1982

Unlike a generation of artists who preceded him, Warhol celebrated money and once stated, “making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.”

4.

Warhol began painting money in 1962.

Dollar Sign (orange and red) by Andy WarholDollar Sign (orange and red) © Andy Warhol, 1982

Warhol once quipped, “I'd asked around 10 or 15 people for suggestions. Finally one lady friend asked the right question, ‘Well, what do you love most?’ That's how I started painting money.” In 1962 his screen printed dollar became the first series in which the artist began to experiment with the screen print process.

5.

The Dollar Signs series departs from Warhol’s use of the appropriated image.

Dollar Sign Quad (F. & S. II.284) by Andy WarholDollar Sign Quad (F. & S. II.284) © Andy Warhol, 1982

Drawing the motif from scratch, Warhol drafted endless dollar signs in different variations. Applying a gestural, expressive technique, this body of work signals the experimentation and painterly approach that came to characterise the artist’s late career paintings.

6.

Artforum published Warhol’s Dollar Signs in 1982.

Dollar Sign Quad (F. & S. II.282) by Andy WarholDollar Sign Quad (F. & S. II.282) © Andy Warhol, 1982

Andy Warhol embraced mass media and imagery found in advertising, news media, and television. It is fitting then that Arforum published Warhol’s Dollar Signs in 1982 in the form of a gatefold commission.

7.

Dollar Sign represents an icon of American popular culture.

Dollar Sign Quad (F. & S. II.283) by Andy WarholDollar Sign Quad (F. & S. II.283) © Andy Warhol, 1982

Warhol was able to distil popular culture, identifying the icons of an age. His Dollar Signs are no different. Here, he paints an icon of American popular culture, a sign that can be seen to signify success, celebrity and glamour, themes that permeate Warhol’s work and career.

8.

Warhol’s estimated to be worth US$100 million when he died.

Dollar Sign 9 (F. & S. II.285) by Andy WarholDollar Sign 9 (F. & S. II.285) © Andy Warhol, 1982

When Andy Warhol died, his estate was worth an estimated $100 million dollars. Ever the astute businessman, it is unsurprising that the art-world mega star’s assets were worth a hefty sum.

9.

The record price for an original Dollar Signs is nearly £7 million.

Dollar Sign 9 (F. & S. II.286) by Andy WarholDollar Sign 9 (F. & S. II.286) © Andy Warhol, 1982

At the Sotheby’s London Contemporary Art Evening auction in July 2015, Andy Warhol’s Dollar Signs painting from 1981 sold for a total of £9,925,000. The painting depicts four rows of varying dollar sign designs against a duck egg blue backdrop.

10.

A Dollar Sign was last sold in October 2022.

Dollar (F. & S. II.278) by Andy WarholDollar (F. & S. II.278) © Andy Warhol, 1982

Warhol’s Dollar Sign from 1982 was sold at Phillips London on 14th October 2022 for £603,300.

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