The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts has struck an exclusive deal with Christie’s to sell its enormous holdings of works from the artist’s estate.
The entire cache, a total of 20,000 pieces,
is expected to bring in about $100m, although there are fears the
sale could dilute the Warhol brand.
In its 25th year, the Foundation, created in
1987 at the late artist's direction for the purpose of supporting
contemporary visual arts, is seeking to significantly increase its
endowment (from $225m to $325m) and increase its annual
grant-making capacity from $13m to $18m-20m.
Christie's will conduct phased sales over a
period of years using the multiple platforms now available to the
auctioneer/dealer. The more valuable pieces will be offered via a
series of single-artist auctions in New York (the first on November
12 comprises 350 works) but the lion's share of lots - drawings,
photographs, prints, and printed graphic material - will be sold
via Christie's website.
Online auctions will begin in February 2013
via a series of 'flash' auctions similar to those held for the
bulk of Elizabeth Taylor's jewellery and costume collection, which
will offer minor works at a range of 'approachable' price points,
with some under $10,000.
Private sales from the collection will be
conducted on an ongoing basis while the Foundation also plans to
mark its anniversary by making additional gifts to museums.
The sale marks a shift in approach for the
Warhol Foundation and follows
the announcement last autumn that it had dissolved its
controversial authentication board after a string of legal
It spent $7m alone fighting a lawsuit
brought by Joe Simon-Whelan, owner of the 'double denied' Warhol
self-portrait, who accused the board of attempting to monopolise
demand for the artist's work.
The Foundation will continue to manage the
copyrights to Warhol images and trademarks to his name and
While few major works now remain in the collection (the
Foundation has deaccessioned a handful of artworks every year since
1987), there are fears that the sheer size of this dispersal could
harm a Warhol market that has proved remarkably robust and -
according to statistics by ArtTactic - accounted for 17% of all
Contemporary art auction sales in 2010.