The auction market for Andy Warhol paintings has been pretty quiet this last few years. There could be a number of different reasons for it. And there are strong reports of big sales privately. But there’s a good chance the issue has been fatigue. The Warhol market was extraordinarily strong for so many years from 2005 until it peaked in 2014. Since 2016, the amount of money spent on Warhol paintings at auction has been remarkably low. Could the market be waiting for an iconic painting like a Liz portrait.
It just so happens there is a blue Liz in the Mayer collection of 11 works to be sold in May during Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary art sale. The entire Mayer collection is expected to make $125m. Of that value, $80m is expected to come from a major Robert Rauschenberg and an early Roy Lichtenstein. Another $20m has been assigned to Warhol’s Liz. Here’s Christie’s description of the work:
Andy Warhol’s Liz, 1963 (in the region of $20 million) is an iconic tribute to one of the major silver-screen goddesses in the artist’s Pop pantheon. Painted at the height of Elizabeth Taylor’s fame, Liz is a unique painting from a group of thirteen colorful portraits of the actress that Warhol executed in the fall of 1963. In this cerulean blue portrait, Warhol immortalizes the actress as an embodiment of the cult of celebrity. Closely related to the candy-colored Marilyn paintings that he executed in the previous year, Liz shows Warhol’s genius for color in full force. The brilliant blue background offsets Taylor’s luminous skin, as well as her trademark scarlet lips and violet eyes, magnifying the most characteristic features of her celebrated beauty. Although Warhol employed the mass-media technique of screen printing, he brought a high level of personal involvement to the Liz series, carefully embellishing her skin, eyes and make-up with hand-applied paint.