$195m Warhol Auction Record

1964 Marilyn Sells at Christies

Maybe the image is not racy, like the one of Marilyn Monroe with her dress flying up in the movie “The Seven Year Itch,” but on Monday night it became the priciest.

In under four minutes of bidding, Andy Warhol’s 1964 silk-screen of the actress’ face, “Shot Sage Blue Marilyn,” sold for about $195 million to an unknown buyer at Christie’s in New York, making it the highest price achieved for any American work of art at auction.

“We did sell the most expensive painting of the 20th century,” said the Christie’s specialist Alex Rotter. “This is a big achievement.”


The 40-inch-by-40-inch painting, a trophy given its vibrant colors and glamorous subject matter, eclipsed the previous high price of $110.5 million for a Basquiat skull painting at Sotheby’s in 2017 as well as Warhol’s auction high for a car crash painting that sold for $105.4 million in 2013.


The sale on Monday kicked off a spring auction season in a city that has only begun to return to normal after two years of the coronavirus pandemic. Christie’s salesroom at Rockefeller Center was filled with the familiar faces of dealers and art advisers who clearly welcomed the opportunity to bid on blue-chip artworks in person again.

“There is a lot of appetite, there is a lot of money and there is a lot of quality,” said the Austrian gallerist Thaddaeus Ropac, who was at the sale. “With all these things, it should work.”

August 27, 2023