“Sleeping Girl,” one of Lichtenstein’s seminal comic-book images, which he painted in 1964. Because its owners, the Los Angeles collectors Beatrice and Phil Gersh, were said to have loved the painting so much they didn’t want to part with it, the couple only lent it once, to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, in 1989-90.
Mr. Gersh, a philanthropist and founder of a talent agency, died in 2004, and his wife, Beatrice, a life trustee of the Museum of Contemporary Art and a noted collector, died in October. Now the painting, which the couple bought for $1,000 from the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles the year it was made, is expected to sell for $30 million to $40 million.
“All of Lichtenstein’s other girls have been traded over the years,” said Tobias Meyer, director of Sotheby’s contemporary art department worldwide. “This is one of the last Pop icons that has remained in the same collection, and collectors have been waiting for it.”