As announced on Wednesday 5th September 2012, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts are to sell and donate its entire collection of the artist’s work this fall. Amongst the vast collection is prints, paintings and photographs, including pieces that have never been seen before by the public. Christie’s auction house has entered into a long-term deal in order to sell the works as it is expected to take a number of years. The process will be completed using a variety of auctions, private sales and online events.
Whilst the profits will be used to enable grants offered by The Foundation some items will also be donated to museums. The Foundation explains that the main aim of this process is to “significantly increase its endowment in order to ensure and expand its long-term support of the visual arts”.
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A key item from the collection is an Andy Warhol silkscreen of the late actor Marlon Brando, an image that was copied from a publicity shot for his 1953 film The Wild One. Depicting Brando wearing leather and astride a motorcycle, this piece is expected to reach $20m (£12.6m) when it is auctioned in November. The 1966 silkscreen is one of Warhol’s most famous Hollywood portraits and as such it is to be part of the auction block entitled postwar and contemporary art. It is being sold from Donald Bryant Jr’s collection, a business and Museum of Modern Art trustee.
The collection in its entirety has been estimated to sell for approximately $100m.
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As stated by The Foundation their grant-making activity is ‘focused on serving the needs of artists by funding the institutions that support them’. Grants are made for several purposes such as scholarly exhibitions at museums, curatorial research, arts writing and for the more general welfare of artists themselves. As this is a paramount part of The Foundation it is essential for the organization to have the resources to fund such activities, a sum that reaches $13m a year. With the additional decline in private and government arts support the sale of Warhol’s works comes at a crucial time for those needing the help of The Andy Warhol Foundation.
Warhol is associated with famous quotes as well as famous pictures and this move will indeed allow buyers to access their own slice of Warhol’s ‘fifteen minutes of fame’. Chief Executive of Christie’s Steve Murphy makes a nod at this by underlining that the sales would bring Warhol’s work to those ‘who never before imagined’ they could own it’.