Sunday, May 20, 2007

Andy Warhol Hi-Lo, the Siloviki, and the Contemporary Art Boom

Thanks to my art dealer friend for the heads-up

Andy Warhol must have created a gajillion versions of his Marilyn Monroe portrait. He also did one on Leo Castelli, big time art dealer and early Warhol supporter. The Monroe portrait was 16X20 inches, Leo Castelli's, 40X40. Guess which one went for 28 million and which for 1.7 million.

Yep, you got it:

Andy Warhol
Lemon Marilyn
1954
$28,040,000
Christie's New York
May 16, 2007


Andy Warhol
Leo Castelli
1965
$1,720,000
Christie's New York
May 16, 2007


Pop art's main attraction seems to be accessibility. Even a Russian oligarch or a fund manager and their friends can "get it", and what is easier to get than Marilyn Monroe?

Speaking of oligarchs, Christie's made it even more easy to take as much money out of Russia in the form of portable assets while they can by adding rubles to its currency board. (Whatever that means.) The Kremlin is broadening its crackdown on the oligarchs and expanding state (and siloviki) control over the economy, and there are only so many gold bracelets you can wear out of before your arms fall off. This is as good an explanation as any for the boom at the high end of the works of contemporary (actually dead, which tends to limit supply) artists. The number of billionaires are rising rapidly, and the Russians are carrying more than their share of the load.

2 comments:

Tim Footman said...

Warhol saw very early on that it wasn't how you painted, it was what you painted that matters.

Celeb culture as we know it began with AW.

Jun Okumura said...

And nobody has done it better yet.