Carol Vogel hangs out a shingle for Warhol’s White Marilyn that will be for sale at Christie’s this May. Lemon Marilyn played an important role in the evolution of the Contemporary market when it sold for $28m at Christie’s in May of 2007. The monochrome Marilyn carries a lower estimate. It was a gift from Warhol to his gallerist Eleanor Ward:
Ward, the art dealer, who died in 1984, was the founder of the Stable Gallery in an old livery stable on West 58th Street that gave many American artists their starts. She organized Warhol’s first one-man show, after Leo Castelli turned him down. That exhibition took place in 1962 and included eight of the 12 single images of Marilyn Monroe he created in early 1962 that came to be known as the “Flavor Marilyns,” because each had a colored background. Every painting in the series depicts a detail from a bust-length photo of Monroe taken for the promotion of the 1953 film “Niagara.” Each canvas measures 20 by 16 inches. Ward was asking $250 apiece for them.Warhol gave Ward “White Marilyn,” hence the dedication on the back. He also gave one with a turquoise background to his friend Jasper Johns.
Since Ward’s death, “White Marilyn,” has changed hands several times. Its current owner, the Boston collector Barbara Lee bought it 20 years ago from Luring Augustine, the Manhattan dealer. Now that Ms. Lee has decided to refocus her collection on female artists, she is selling the painting on May 13 at Christie’s, where it is expected to bring $12 million to $18 million. “It’s both glamorous and elegant,” Ms. Lee said in a telephone interview. “And it has an iconic place in art history.”
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