Andy Warhol… still hugely successful at auction


In 2022, Andy Warhol was once again the top-selling artist in the auction world with a turnover total of $590 million. Thirty-six years after his death, creations by the figurehead of American Pop Art are still gaining in value, and Warhol is still one of the most popular artists of our time.

Last year, no less than 2,100 Andy WARHOL (1928-1987) works changed hands at auction making him the third most coveted and collected artist in the world, after Pablo Picasso (more than 3,400 works in 2022) and Salvador Dali (more than 2,500 transactions). Above all, his high-end market is still producing stunning results with two above the $100 million threshold last year.

$289 million in two hammer blows

Two works by Andy Warhol hit the headlines in 2022. First of all, Shot Sage Blue Marilyn (1964) sold for $195 million in May during Christie’s sale of the Ammann collection. It is now the most expensive 20th century artwork ever exchanged on the auction market. The amount disbursed rewards an icon of cinema, Marilyn Monroe, revisited by an icon of art history, Andy Warhol. But it also rewarded a somewhat over-hyped legend about a certain Dorothy Podber who supposedly fired a gunshot at the work in his studio after asking permission to “shoot” the work (Warhol imagined she just wanted to take a picture). Turning this incident to his advantage, Warhol managed to make the few paintings in this series more ‘exceptional’ than all the others.

Six months after that extraordinary record, Warhol’s White Disaster (White Car Crash 19 Times) – which passed through the Zurich gallery of Thomas Ammann in the late 1980s – sold for $85.3 million at Sotheby’s (compared with just $660,000 on 5 May 1987 at Christie’s). Its price therefore multiplied nearly 130 times in thirty-five years.

These two major works, which alone generated over half of the artist’s annual auction turnover last year, both sold in New York, the epicenter of the Warhol market. But the artist’s work, which now attracts major collectors from all over the world, also attracted some remarkable results in Asia. In March, a portrait of Liz Taylor fetched $20.8 million in Tokyo, Japan’s best-ever auction result for a work of art!

Geography of Warhol’s auction turnover in 2022 (copyright


Focus on the Ladies and Gentlemen series

Andy Warhol read his own era so well that he actually foreshadowed some of the major cultural upheavals of our current era, notably with one of his most important series, Ladies and Gentlemen (1975), which spotlights 14 black and Latino trans women and drag queens from New York City, including Marsha P. Johnson, who fought for LGBTQ+ rights throughout her life.

Warhol was commissioned to create this series by Italian art dealer Luciano Anselmino, owner of Galleria Il Fauno in Turin, who suggested a series of images of “transvestites” and proposed the theatrical title “Ladies and Gentlemen”. The portraits were intended to celebrate this minority community just after the untimely death of Candy Darling (1974), an icon for the LGBT community at the time (and for Andy Warhol). Darling was the first trans woman known to have taken hormones.

To create this series, Warhol took more than 500 photographs of 14 models, from which he created a selection of enlarged silkscreen portraits. The series turned out to be one of the most controversial, not only for their images, but because it became known that Warhol only paid his models 50 to 100 dollars for works carrying price tags of several thousand dollars at their first gallery exhibition. In 2014, after extensive research, the Warhol Foundation published the names of 13 of the 14 models identified: Alphanso Panell, Broadway, Easha McCleary, Helen/Harry Morales, Iris, Ivette, Kim, Lurdes, Marsha P. Johnson, Michele Long, Monique, Vicki Peters and Wilhelmina Ross. The identity of the fourteenth model remained unknown.

The Italian gallery owner Luciano Anselmino published a portfolio of 10 portraits in 1975, printed in 125 copies with 25 additional artist’s proofs. A full batch of the 10 serigraphs on Arches paper sold at Sotheby’s New York in October 2022 for $214 200 (Ladies and Gentlemen). The price was very reasonable compared to other Warhol series. Indeed, during that same sale, Sotheby’s sold a lot of 10 serigraphs of Campbell’s Soup II at three times that price ($756 000).

Clearly, the Ladies and Gentlemen series has, until recently, been marginalized compared with Warhol’s more emblematic productions like his Campbell’s Soup screenprints, his portraits of Marilyn Monroe and those of “Liz” Taylor. But times have changed… and the choices of collectors have evolved too.

Our analysis of the global art auction market reveals that a growing number of collectors are now focusing their purchases on works by artists from marginalized communities, including Indigenous Peoples and People of Color (IPOC) and LGBTQ+, in order to build more inclusive and socially-engaged collections. Indeed, Warhol’s Ladies and Gentlemen series (and its subjects) now appear resolutely pioneering. The prices for this series, which have already doubled in the last two years (10 Ladies and Gentlemen sold for $90,000 in 2019 at Christie’s then $214,000 in October 2022), still have plenty of upside potential…

Lots sold at auction per price segment in 2022 (copyright