The King of Pop Art, Andy Warhol, continues to dominate the art market after the first round of Q1 2023 March auctions. Warhol’s work remains highly collectable and recession resistant. He revolutionised the art world by transforming banal commercial objects into classified commodities, ultimately becoming a lucrative brand himself. An incredibly active artist throughout his lifetime, Warhol produced over 9,000 paintings and sculptures and nearly 12,000 drawings, according to the Andy Warhol Foundation. As a result, the Warhol art market remains highly liquid as collectors and investors rush to buy his works, as assets that increase in value.
According to ArtPrice’s Art Market report, Warhol is placed at number one, out of five-hundred artists, for fine art auction turnover, 2022 producing 410 million (GBP). Of that amount, the prolific sale of Shot Sage Blue Marilyn (1964), the most expensive contemporary single artwork ever sold at auction, accounted for nearly 40% of the total volume and is responsible for driving the potential investment yield for any collector that owns a Warhol.
Warhol’s auction market has seen an upward trajectory in turnover for the past three years, climbing nearly 200% from 2020 and almost 100% from 2021. As we reported in our Ultimate Print Market Report, the print market for Pop Art has mirrored the painting market as the demand and value for editioned prints is increasing.
MyArtBroker is closely watching Warhol’s Q1 2023 market and exploring how the King of Pop effortlessly retains leading positions and rankings. Warhol infamously said: “In the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes”. Conflictingly, the artist’s work and legacy are the opposite of ephemeral.
Sotheby’s Modern & Contemporary evening sale launched Warhol’s Q1 2023 market, offering one of his most acclaimed celebrity portraits, Debbie Harry (1980), an acrylic silkscreen on canvas depicting the 1970s American singer-songwriter of the rock band Blondie.
Warhol created only four portraits of Harry in various colours, two of which are held in the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. This pink rendition demonstrates Warhol’s unmatched skill as a colourist. He contrasts the vibrant blue of Harry’s eyes against her bubblegum pink hair and accentuates her soft purple eyeshadow and crimson red lips. This sale marks a first-time auction appearance for the work and sold for nearly £7 million (price realised), which MyArtBroker reported on in our 2023 Auction Report.
Christie’s evening sales also contributed to Warhol’s Q1 success offering Little Electric Chair (1964) from The Adam Lindemann collection, which sold for £3.6 million (price realised). These two top-tiered works account for approximately £10.6 million (price realised), a significant 54% of Warhol’s current Q1 2023 market share. Individual blue-chip artworks impact artist’s total market shares drastically, and we can expect to see this percentage increase as the auction year continues and other high-end works surface.
The prints and multiples category also accounts for a crucial percentage of overall market share, currently accounting for 44% of Warhol’s Q1 2023 performance, and is evidence of a comprehensive market trajectory. As reported in our 5 Year Print Market Review, Warhol’s print market size has a compounded annual growth rate of 27% over the last five years. Indeed, the quality and volume of works are driving this, but also the larger number of young collectors looking to build their collections and acquire more affordable pieces as revealed in the 2021 edition of The Art Basel and UBS Global Art Market Report. Warhol’s ability to transform recognisable imagery into culturally significant objects provides a type of agency that resonates with experienced and young collectors, proving why his market continues to make headlines and dominate art market shares.
Warhol’s Q1 2023 Prints & Multiples auction sales offered various screen prints and editions from Warhol’s Jagger series (1975), comprising ten prints of Rolling Stones frontman and sex symbol Mick Jagger. To date, four of Warhol’s Jagger screen prints have surfaced within the auction market bringing in a combined total of £441,463 (price realised) against a combined hammer ratio of .29, meaning that the combined sales total falls 29% above the average presale estimates for these works. MyArBroker has exclusive access to Warhol’s Jagger screen prints and shows that the average annual growth rate is rising, anywhere from 27%-60%, depending on the print. Get in touch for more information or a consultation.
Other celebrity sales across Warhol’s prints and multiple auction categories include three 1967 Marilyn screen prints reaching a total of £919,399 (price realised). Queen Elizabeth screen prints are also sought after, as three sold for just over £700,000 (price realised). Given the Queen’s legacy and ultimate passing, we can expect to see the popularity and demand for these prints increase. Also, the Campbell’s soup cans continue to prove their international timelessness as six works (screen prints) sold, two from Tokyo auctions, bringing in a combined turnover of approximately £226,000+ (price realised). Additionally, a complete set of Campbell’s soup cans sold for approximately £1.5 million (price realised). MyArtBroker’s 5 Year Print Market review details how complete series of Warhol’s works are a forecable trend driving market performance gains and that the sales value for complete sets grew 175% between 2020 and 2021.
The art market is notoriously opaque, and predicting trends is always challenging. However, MyArtBroker is working towards a greater deal of transparency within the market, and identifying what factors are responsible for driving prices.
In March of 2022, Netflix released The Andy Warhol Diaries, a one-season documentary that follows the artist’s documentation of his life and feelings after being wounded by a gunshot in 1986. While still acknowledging his boundless successes, the documentary cast an obscure light on Warhol as an individual. The release date of this documentary fortuitously aligned with Christie’s sale of Shot Sage Blue Marilyn (1964), which, as mentioned previously, resulted in groundbreaking records for the art market and contemporary artworks. As this work exudes top-tier quality and attributes to its selling price, it is undeniable that contemporary culture, including documentaries, has a strong influence on buying trends and commodity markets.
Likewise, a global topic becoming more openly discussed and urgently acknowledged is the impact of climate change. In relation to the art market, MyArtBroker is tracking the performance of Warhol’s Endangered Species series (1983) and the recent circulation of several within the secondary market. Three of Warhol’s Endangered Species works were offered in Warhol’s Q1 2023 compared to the five that were offered throughout all of 2022. In 2022 the art market witnessed an increasing amount of collectors buying for a purpose as more works are being consigned with proceeds benefiting charitable projects. Now, more than ever, Warhol’s Endangered Species series feels especially relevant as the ten works, all featuring a different animal which was then on the brink of extinction, were produced and commissioned as a special project acknowledging climate conservation.
Warhol and the icons within his artworks are just as much reflections of contemporary culture, as is what sells within the art market. MyArtBroker will be watching Warhol’s market closely throughout 2023 and expect to see significant numbers within the above-mentioned highly-acclaimed series.
MyArtBroker has exclusive access to Andy Warhol’s prints and provides expert valuation advice on his works as investment assets. Get in touch for more information and consultation services.