Rated as one of the surest investments by leading dealers in the art world, the appeal of Warhol’s work among collectors and the general public shows no sign of slowing down. As we embark on a new decade we take a look at some of the figures that have defined the market for the father of pop art over the last few years.
Over 40% of Warhol lots at auction have consistently sold over their estimate in the last decade.
The median price for a Warhol at auction in 2019 lay between $10k and $20k. This includes editions as well as original works of art. However, as gallerist Dominique Levy states, “You can’t separate the market” – this figure belies the huge amount of private sales for Warhol in the last year which is estimated to be a lot higher. In an interview earlier this year she noted that $1million to $10million sales for Warhol are “constant”.
Over the last 3 years, there have been around 600 lots by Warhol brought to auction, realising on average $200million a year. As the man himself said, “Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.”
Over the last 5 years around 40% of Warhol lots at auction were worth between $0 and $10k however these only made up around 5% of the total value of his sales. More than 75% of his total value came from lots worth $1million or more.
At the 2019 edition of Art Basel Miami Leonardo di Caprio sold his original Warhol drawing, Cats/Pink Sam, for $140,000 at CORE x Let Love Rule, a charity auction gala held by Sean Penn and Lenny Kravitz in aid of communities in the Bahamas who were affected by Hurricane Dorian.
59 gay, bisexual and transgender men donated blood to New York-based artist Jordan Eagles for his installation titled Illuminations, which opened at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh on World Aids Day this year.
For this year’s SuperBowl, Burger King edited down a 4 and half minute clip by Jorgen Leth of Andy Warhol eating a cheeseburger to just 45 seconds. It was accompanied by the hashtag #eatlikeandy.
Said to be inspired by Warhol’s famous banana screen print and Velvet Underground album cover, Maurizio Cattelan’s Comedian made headlines across the world when it was unveiled at Art Basel Miami and later sold as an edition for $120,000. Consisting of a real (perishable) banana and a piece of duct tape, many ridiculed the work as ‘the unicorn of the art world’. However one couple saw its value as an object that sparked debated “about art and our society”, comparing it to Warhol’s iconic Campbell’s Soup series which caused similar levels of outrage and acclaim when it was presented to the public in the mid-20th century.
Warhol’s Double Elvis sold for $53 million at Christie’s, just missing the top spot – which went to Robert Rauschenberg – to become the second highest result for a work of post-war art at auction in 2019.
A lawsuit that lasted 2 years finally came to an end this year as it was ruled that Warhol did not violate the copyright of celebrity photographer Lynn Goldsmith by using her 1981 portraits of the musician Prince for a set of 16 screen prints commissioned by Vanity Fair in 1984. Judge John G. Koeltl ruled that Warhol’s works were “transformative” of the original photographs and “add something new to the world of art”.
A survey to determine the most popular artist in public exhibitions across London in the last two decades put Warhol at 7th, joint with Tacita Dean.
The average sale price for a Warhol is more than 20 million higher than that for his closest competitors in the category of post-war and contemporary art, Roy Lichtenstein, almost double that of Jeff Koons and triple that of Damien Hirst, proving this 20th century master’s enduring appeal among contemporary audiences.
Each different colourway of Warhol’s iconic Marilyn prints, which continue to be in high demand on the market, is made in an edition of 250, proving that, in Warhol’s own words, ‘repetition adds up to reputation’.
Over 30 years after the last US retrospective of Andy Warhol’s work, 2019 saw the exhibition Andy Warhol—From A to B and Back Again travel from the Whitney in New York to SFMoMA in San Francisco and finally to the Art Institute of Chicago. The show includes over 350 works by the artist, spanning his commercial beginnings, his incredible printed oeuvre as well as his prolific work in film.
2020 marks 58 years since Warhol first began making screen prints of famous faces – beginning with that of Marilyn Monroe just three days after her death – sparking a renaissance in printmaking as the screen printing method was elevated from industry staple to art world medium. As curator Henry Geldzahler put it, ‘Warhol’s technical contribution to the fine arts lies in his legitimisation of the commercial silkscreen, a process which contributed an authentic ‘newness’ to the history of picture making.’