Warhol’s Iconic Liz Taylor Portrait Could Draw $30M at May Auction

Warhol’s Iconic Liz Taylor Portrait Could Draw $30M at May Auction

The iconic 1963 Andy Warhol silkscreen portrait of legendary actress Elizabeth Taylor will be auctioned on May 12, 2011 at Phillips de Pury’s Manhattan gallery and is expected to sell for $20 Million to $30 Million. Liz #5 has been described as a pristine gem, a work by Warhol at his very best.

Liz #5 was created at the height of the Taylor’s fame, which also coincided with the most significant and creative period of Warhol’s career. The glamorous portrait embodies the most important themes of Warhol’s body of work, which include celebrity, wealth, scandal, sex, death and Hollywood. The epitome of old-world Hollywood style and glamour, Elizabeth Taylor, who died on March 23rd, was one of Warhol’s most famous inspirations, along with Marilyn Monroe and Jackie Kennedy.

Taylor captured Warhol’s attention early on with her life’s high-profile romances and tragedy, a vibrancy and pathos that so attracted Warhol to her and ensured she was a formidable influence on his work throughout his career. It has been said that the power of her attraction has never been as evident as it is in this Warhol painting, which is a dazzling tribute to Elizabeth Taylor. This striking portrait is a testament to the legend and beauty of one of the world’s most beloved and iconic actresses, both capturing her very essence and transcending the limits of time.

Warhol’s 1962 Elizabeth Taylor work, Men in Her Life, went for $63.3 Million, the highest auction price paid in 2010 for a contemporary artwork and the second-highest auction price ever paid for a Warhol painting, behind  the $71.7 Million paid in 2007 for his 1963 Green Car Crash, Green Burning Car I.

Warhol’s Liz#5 to Sell at Auction

Remembering Elizabeth Taylor: Legendary Actress, Pioneering Activist and Humanitarian

Elizabeth Taylor, the queen of American motion picture stardom, who enthralled generations of moviegoers with her stunning beauty and whose name was synonymous with Hollywood glamour, died on Wednesday in Los Angeles at the age of 79.

During a theatrical career that spanned six decades and more than 50 films, the legendary beauty won two Academy Awards as best actress, for her performances as a call girl in BUtterfield 8 (1960) and as the acid-tongued Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966). Long after she faded from the motion picture screen, Taylor remained a mesmerizing figure, both blessed and cursed by the extraordinary celebrity that shaped her life through its many phases. She was a child star who bloomed gracefully into an ingenue; a femme fatale both on the screen and in real life; a shrewd entrepreneur of high-priced perfume; and a pioneering activist in the fight against AIDS.

Some actresses, such as Katharine Hepburn and Ingrid Bergman, may have won more awards and critical praise, but none matched Taylor’s hold on the collective imagination. In the public’s mind, she was the dark goddess for whom playing Cleopatra with such notoriety, required no great leap from reality.

Taylor had many gay friends and, as the AIDS epidemic mushroomed, some of them were dying. In 1985, she became the most prominent celebrity to back what was then a most unfashionable cause. She agreed to chair the first major AIDS benefit, a fundraising dinner for the nonprofit AIDS Project Los Angeles. Taylor began calling her A-list friends to enlist their support, but many of Hollywood’s biggest stars turned her down. Undaunted, Taylor redoubled her efforts, aided along the way by the stunning announcement that Rock Hudson, the handsome matinee idol and her co-star in Giant, had the dreaded disease. She stood by Hudson, just as years later she would stand by pop-idol Michael Jackson during the latter’s struggle to defend himself against child abuse allegations.

Thanks to Taylor’s high profile and public sympathy for Hudson, the star-studded AIDS fundraiser netted $1 Million and attracted 2,500 guests, including former First Lady Betty Ford. Hudson was too ill to attend, but he used the occasion to release a major public statement about his illness. Randy Shilts, who wrote the pioneering AIDS chronicle And the Band Played On, said Taylor made a profound difference. Shilts said that Taylor’s advocacy,”made the disease something that respectable people could talk about.”

Taylor went on to co-found the first national organization devoted to backing AIDS research, the American Foundation for AIDS Research, or AmFAR. In 1991 she formed the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, which directly supports AIDS education and patient care. She publicly denounced President George H.W. Bush, accusing him of inaction on AIDS. Taylor’s AIDS work brought her the Legion of Honor in 1987, France’s highest civilian award, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ awarded her The Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 1993. In 2000, Queen Elizabeth made her a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire, an honor on the level of knighthood. Through her various efforts she would eventually raise more than $270 Million for AIDS research, prevention and care.

Read more detailed biographical information in The New York Times and in The Los Angeles Times.

View photo-galleries in The New York Times here and here.

Remembering Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor Tribute by Paul Newman

Slide Show: Remembering Elizabeth Taylor

(Please Click Image to View Slide Show)

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