Warhol images of Elvis, Brando fetch Sh13.6 billion

Warhol painting

Two iconic Andy Warhol paintings of Elvis Presley and Marlon Brando sold for more than $151 million (Sh13.6 billion) at auction in New York, shattering pre-sale estimates by several million dollars.

Pop-art legend Warhol’s “Triple Elvis” — a 1963 silkscreen depicting three images of the King of Rock and Roll posing as a gunslinging cowboy — sold for $81.9 million at the Christie’s sale on Wednesday.

The striking seven-foot tall work, derived from a publicity still for the 1960 Don Siegel-directed Western “Flaming Star,” had been estimated to fetch $60 million.

The final sale price topped out at more than $20 million above the estimate after six minutes of frenzied bidding.

It was a similar story for the other Warhol classic sold Wednesday, “Four Marlons,” a giant set of four images of the legendary actor taken from his 1953 motorcycle gang classic “The Wild One.”

Both of Wednesday’s auction prices however were well short of the all-time record for a Warhol work set by “Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster),” which fetched $105.4 million in November last year at Sotheby’s.

A flurry of bids also greeted the sale of Cy Twombly’s “Untitled” from his blackboard series, which went under the hammer for the first time.

The painting – a series of energetic looping spirals resembling chalk scribblings on a school blackboard — sold for $69.6 million, the highest amount ever paid for a work by the American, who died three years ago in Italy.

Several world records were set for masterpieces sold on Wednesday, including $30.4 million raised for “Smash” by Ed Ruscha, regarded as one of the leading lights of the American pop-art movement.

American photographer Cindy Sherman, 60, also set a record with her “Untitled Film Stills,” which fetched $6.8 million. Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama’s “White No. 28” earned $7.1 million, smashing its estimate of between $1.5 million and $2 million.

Revered British artist Francis Bacon’s “Seated Figure” meanwhile sold for $44.96 million, in the lower range of price estimates set between $40 million and $60 million.

A Bacon triptych — “Three Studies of Lucian Freud” — sold for $142.4 million last year, the highest ever price for a work of art sold at auction, surpassing the previous best of $119.9 million raised for the fourth print of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” set in May 2012.

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