Another Freak-Show Big-Money Art Auction: Warhol’s “Double Elvis” Brings $37 Million

Another Freak-Show Big-Money Art Auction: Warhol’s “Double Elvis” Brings

An iconic portrait of Elvis Presley by pop artist Andy Warhol went for $37 Million when it hit the auction block tonight at Sotheby’s. The life-size 1963 silkscreen ink and spray paint piece, Double Elvis (Ferus Type), epitomizes Warhol’s obsessions with fame, stardom and the public image, according to Sotheby’s. Previously estimated to sell for $30 million to $50 million, it was included in the auction house’s May 9th sale of post-war and contemporary art. Art auctions have turned into freak-show casinos, spectacles where the uber-rich can act out as much in public as possible, trying to buy immortality, become a part of art history, make headlines and create big profits. They are despicable for what they do to art, for the bad magic of making mysteriously powerful things turn into numbers.

The silver background of Double Elvis (Ferus Type), along with the subtle variations in tone is said to give the serial imagery a sense of rhythmic variation that recalls the artist’s masterpiece, 200 One Dollar Bills, completed the previous year. That work soared to nearly $44 million or four times its estimate in 2009 and achieved the highest price of any work at the fall auctions. But it was a work from Warhol’s Death and Disaster series that set the artist’s record, which still stands. Green Car Crash (Green Car Burning), also from 1963, more than doubled its estimate and sold for $71.7 million in 2007, at the height of the art market boom.

In the Double Elvis work, Presley is dressed as a cowboy, shooting a gun. Sotheby’s describes him in the work as “a Hollywood icon of the sixties rather than the rebellious singer who shook the world of music in the sixties.” The double in the title refers to a shadowy image of Presley in the same pose that appears next to him in the work.

Bob Dylan Holding “Double Elvis” at The Factory, NYC, 1965

On an eagerly-awaited visit to The Factory in 1965 for one of Warhol’s “Screen Test” sessions, Bob Dylan and his crew, along with their host Andy Warhol, were photographed on the set. At the session, Andy gave Dylan a great double image of Elvis. Dylan departed, having tied the Elvis image to the top of his station wagon, like a deer poached out of season. Much later, Dylan said that he’d traded the “Double Elvis” (now worth millions) to his manager for a couch!

Bob Dylan’s Screen Test, The Factory, NYC, 1965

Andy Warhol’s “Double Elvis (Ferus Type)” at May 9th Sotheby’s Auction

Andy Warhol’s Pop Art: A Documentary (2000)

Andy Warhol (1928-1987) was a leading figure in the visual pop art movement. After a successful career as a commercial illustrator, Warhol became a renowned and sometimes controversial artist. His works explore the relationship between artistic expression, celebrity culture and advertisement. He worked in a range of media, including painting, printmaking, sculpture, film and music. He founded Interview Magazine and was the author of numerous books, including The Philosophy of Andy Warhol and Popism: The Warhol Sixties. Andy Warhol is also notable as a gay man who lived openly as such before the gay liberation movement. His studio in New York City, The Factory, was a famous gathering place that brought together distinguished intellectuals, drag queens, playwrights, Bohemian street people, Hollywood celebrities and wealthy patrons.

Andy Warhol’s Pop Art: A Documentary (2000)

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Andy Warhol’s Cowboy “Double Elvis” Could Bring $50 Million at Auction

Andy Warhol’s Cowboy “Double Elvis (Ferus Type)” Could Bring $50 Million at Auction

An iconic portrait of Elvis Presley by pop artist Andy Warhol is poised to go for as much as $50 million when it hits the auction block in May at Sotheby’s. The life-size 1963 painting, Double Elvis (Ferus Type), epitomizes Warhol’s obsessions with fame, stardom and the public image, according to Sotheby’s. Estimated to sell for $30 million to $50 million, it will be included in the auction house’s May 9th sale of post-war and contemporary art.

The silver background of Double Elvis (Ferus Type), along with the subtle variations in tone give the serial imagery a sense of rhythmic variation that recalls the artist’s masterpiece, 200 One Dollar Bills, completed the previous year. That work soared to nearly $44 million or four times its estimate in 2009 and achieved the highest price of any work at the fall auctions. But it was a work from Warhol’s Death and Disaster series that set the artist’s record, which still stands. Green Car Crash (Green Car Burning), also from 1963, more than doubled its estimate and sold for $71.7 million in 2007, at the height of the art market boom.

In the Double Elvis work, Presley is dressed as a cowboy, shooting a gun. Sotheby’s describes him in the work as “a Hollywood icon of the sixties rather than the rebellious singer who shook the world of music in the sixties.” The double in the title refers to a shadowy image of Presley in the same pose that appears next to him in the work.

Bob Dylan Holding “Double Elvis” at The Factory, NYC, 1965

On an eagerly-awaited visit to The Factory in 1965 for one of Warhol’s “Screen Test” sessions, Bob Dylan and his crew, along with their host Andy Warhol, were photographed on the set. At the session, Andy gave Dylan a great double image of Elvis. Dylan departed, having tied the Elvis image to the top of his station wagon, like a deer poached out of season. Much later, Dylan said that he’d traded the “Double Elvis” (now worth millions) to his manager for a couch!

Bob Dylan’s Screen Test, The Factory, NYC, 1965

Andy Warhol’s “Double Elvis (Ferus Type)” at May 9th Sotheby’s Auction

Andy Warhol’s Pop Art: A Documentary (2000)

Andy Warhol (1928-1987) was a leading figure in the visual pop art movement. After a successful career as a commercial illustrator, Warhol became a renowned and sometimes controversial artist. His works explore the relationship between artistic expression, celebrity culture and advertisement. He worked in a range of media, including painting, printmaking, sculpture, film and music. He founded Interview Magazine and was the author of numerous books, including The Philosophy of Andy Warhol and Popism: The Warhol Sixties. Andy Warhol is also notable as a gay man who lived openly as such before the gay liberation movement. His studio in New York City, The Factory, was a famous gathering place that brought together distinguished intellectuals, drag queens, playwrights, Bohemian street people, Hollywood celebrities and wealthy patrons.

Andy Warhol’s Pop Art: A Documentary (2000)

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Warhol’s Iconic Liz Taylor Portrait Gets $27 Million at Auction

Warhol’s Iconic Liz Taylor Portrait Gets $27 Million at Auction

Christie’s sale of contemporary art last night was a welcome, if theatrical, relief to many in the art world. The event exceeded expectations, with a total sale of $301.7 million. The highlight of the evening was the sale of Andy Warhol’s 1963-1964 self-portrait, a 16-minute ordeal between two bidders. The final winner paid $38.45 Million, which beat the previous record of $32.56 million for a self-portrait by Warhol, which was set in May 2010.

Hedge fund billionaire Steve Cohen put his iconic 1963 Andy Warhol silkscreen portrait of Elizabeth Taylor on the block at Phillips de Pury’s Manhattan auction house on May 12, 2011, with two telephone bidders vying for the work that ultimately sold for $27 Million.

Liz #5 (1963) has been described as is a rare and exquisite example of the world renowned images of feminine grace that catapulted Warhol to prominence nearly 50 years ago. This glamorous portrait of the legendary actress, Elizabeth Taylor, embodies the most important themes of Warhol’s body of work, including his fascination with celebrity, real-life drama and the fleeting nature of beauty. One of the artist’s most instantly recognized images, Liz #5 is said to be a testament to Warhol’s unique and unrivaled contribution to the visual arts. 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 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. In 2009, Andy Warhol’s 1962 silk-screen painting 200 One Dollar Bills sold for $43.8 Million at Sotheby’s, more than four times its estimated selling price. Unfortunately, Warhol wasn’t around to enjoy the fabulous joke of his pictures of money grabbing so much money. The seven-and-a-half-foot-wide canvas, one of Warhol’s first silk-screen paintings, looks like just what you’d think: 200 one-dollar bills. Yes, if you just take a wide look at today’s contemporary art world, that confection of bucks, puff and street smarts, you realize anew that Andy Warhol was the big daddy of it all!!

Warhol’s Liz#5 Gets $26,962,500 Million 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

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Andy Warhol’s “Purple Fright Wig” Self-Portrait Sells for $32,562,500!!

Andy Warhol’s “Purple Fright Wig” Self-Portrait Sells for $32,562,500!!

On May 12th, a rare nine-foot-square self-portrait by Andy Warhol, his Purple-Hued Fright Wig painting, was offered for auction at Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Sale in New York City.  Warhol’s painting had an estimated value of $10,000,000—15,000,000, but after heated bidding the painting sold for $32,562,500.  The self-portrait had been put up for auction by the fashion designer Tom Ford, who acquired the acrylic and silkscreen ink work in 1998 from the estate of the artist.  Warhol’s iconic and rare self-portrait was executed in 1986, just prior to his unexpected death the following year.

From the young artist in the photo-booth and The Factory of the 1960s, to the art-world elder statesman contemplating his own mortality, Warhol’s self-portraits stand out as an unparalleled body of work.  Andy Warhol’s lifelong obsession with self-portraiture and mortality was enhanced by three dangerous encounters during the 1960s.  The most dangerous experience occurred on June 3, 1968 when the deranged Valerie Solanas entered The Factory and shot Warhol, who was gravely injured and lucky to have survived. The close encounter with death subsequently inspired the artist to produce numerous self-portraits, culminating in his fright-wig paintings.

Ford’s decision to sell his Warhol self-portrait came after auction houses had achieved astounding results with the artist’s works.  Warhol’s 1963 Green Car Crash went for $71.7 Million at Christie’s in 2007, and his 1962 silk-screen painting 200 One Dollar Bills sold for $43.8 Million at Sotheby’s in 2009.

Warhol’s Self-Portrait: The Purple-Hued Fright Wig Painting

Slide Show: Andy Warhol’s Self-Portraiture from the 1960s through the 1980s

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Warhol’s Self-Portrait: The Monumental Purple-Hued Fright Wig Painting

Warhol’s Self-Portrait: The Purple-Hued Fright Wig Painting

On May 12th, a rare nine-foot-square self-portrait by Andy Warhol, his Purple-Hued Fright Wig painting, will be offered for auction at Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Sale in New York City.  The self-portrait is currently owned by the fashion designer Tom Ford, who acquired the acrylic and silkscreen ink work in 1998 from the estate of the artist.  Warhol’s iconic and rare self-portrait was executed in 1986, just prior to his unexpected death the following year.

From the young artist in the photo-booth and The Factory of the 1960s, to the art-world elder statesman contemplating his own mortality, Warhol’s self-portraits stand out as an unparalleled body of work.  Andy Warhol’s lifelong obsession with self-portraiture and mortality was enhanced by three dangerous encounters during the 1960s.  The most dangerous experience occurred on June 3, 1968 when the deranged Valerie Solanas entered The Factory and shot Warhol, who was gravely injured and lucky to have survived.  The close encounter with death subsequently inspired the artist to produce numerous self-portraits, culminating in his fright-wig paintings.

Ford’s decision to sell his Warhol self-portrait comes after auction houses have achieved astounding results with the artist’s works.  Warhol’s 1963 Green Car Crash went for $71.7 Million at Christie’s in 2007, and his 1962 silk-screen painting 200 One Dollar Bills sold for $43.8 million at Sotheby’s in 2009.

Warhol’s Self-Portrait: The Purple-Hued Fright Wig Painting

Slide Show: Andy Warhol’s Self-Portraiture from the 1960s through the 1980s

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200 One Dollar Bills: Andy Warhol’s Fabulous Joke

200 One Dollar Bills: Andy Warhol’s Fabulous Joke

Unfortunately, Andy Warhol’s not around to enjoy the fabulous joke of his pictures of money grabbing so much money.  His 1962 silk-screen painting 200 One Dollar Bills sold for $43.8 million at Sotheby’s this week, more than four times its estimated selling price. The seven-and-a-half-foot-wide canvas, one of Warhol’s first silk-screen paintings, looks like just what you’d think: 200 one-dollar bills.  The current record for a Warhol painting is $71.7 million for Green Car Crash, which was sold at Christie’s in 2007.  Yes, if you just take a wide look at today’s contemporary art world, that confection of bucks, puff and street smarts, you realize anew that Andy Warhol was the big daddy of it all.

But is this painting, a solid wall of greenbacks, really beautiful?  Well, in the art world Warhol completely changed our idea of beauty so, yes, it is.  He was also one of the first modern artists to say out loud that money itself is beautiful, is art, which has helped create the reality that, aesthetically speaking, it is as often as not, the price tag, not what it’s attached to, that generates value.  So the new owner of 200 One Dollar Bills got a funny old print on canvas all tarted up with some paint, which he or she succeeded in making super-famous and valuable by paying so much for it.  Wow.  That’s talent.  And as for Warhol, did he already suspect in 1962 that in making his art he would be so good at printing money for many, many years?  He was such a cultural clairvoyant, you just know he knew.

Andy Warhol’s 200 One Dollar Bills

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