Buried deep within a Los Angeles Times story on the Warhol Foundation’s massive gifts of Warhol source material to various museums around the country is a tentative answer to a very important question about one of Steven Murphy’s most important initiatives at Christie’s.
With Amy Cappellazzo leading the charge, the auction house estimated the bulk of the Warhol Foundation’s remaining holdings at $100m. Christie’s was gambling that the combination of the Warhol name and an expansion of access through the internet would become a virtuous circle of sales and marketing.
But now it would appear the auction house has a ways to go to realize that number:
The foundation had announced in 2012 that it would sell or give away all its remaining Warhol holdings so it could bolster its endowment and focus strictly on making grants to nonprofit art organizations and art writers.
Wachs said that the endowment now stands at $285 million and generates about $14 million a year for grants. The hope is that further art sales, investment gains and earnings from licensing Warhol’s images for commercial use will lift the endowment enough to boost its annual grantmaking 30% or more, to $18 million to $20 million.
The sales forums arranged by Christie’s auction house have included live public auctions, online bidding and private sales. They’ve brought in $30 million, Wachs said, with an estimated $70 million worth of Warhols to be marketed. Everything that’s being sold has been turned over to Christie’s for storage and preservation, he said, saving the foundation about $3 million a year. [Emphasis added]