Two Andy Warhol works from his Death and Disaster series have sold for a combined $100 million US in New York, with more Warhols and a portrait of young Pakistani activist Malala among the works for sale Wednesday as the spring auction season continues.
A group of six Andy Warhol self-portraits from 1986 is expected to bring $25 million to $35 million (all figures in US) at the Sotheby's auction in New York Wednesday. The identical silk-screen images in different colours depict Warhol in his famous "fright wig."
The sale comes a day after two works from Warhol's Death and Disaster series sold for a combined $100 million and a Barnett Newman painting fetched an artist record of $84.2 million in fierce bidding at Christie's.
Warhol's Race Riot, 1964 — a provocative four-panel painting of unrest in Birmingham, Alabama — went for $62.9 million at Christie's auction of postwar and contemporary works, far exceeding the estimate of $45 million.
Warhol's 1962 painting White Marilyn, completed shortly after Hollywood star Marilyn Monroe took her life, sold for $41 million, well above its estimate of $12 million to $18 million.
Newman's Black Fire I, a 1961 canvas showing a thick column of black alongside smaller ribbons of white and black, surpassed his auction record set last year when Onement VI went for $43.8 million at Sotheby's. The New York artist died in 1970 at age 65.
Francis Bacon's Three Studies for a Portrait of John Edwards, featuring his longtime companion, sold for $80.8 million. The 1984 work came onto the market a year after Christie's sold Bacon's 1969 Three Studies of Lucian Freud for $142.4 million, setting a world record for the most expensive artwork ever sold at auction.
Jeff Koons' Jim Beam J.B. Turner Train, a stainless steel sculpture filled with bourbon, sold for $33.8 million. His stainless steel sculpture, Popeye, is estimated to bring $25 million at Sotheby's on Wednesday. Koons' Balloon Dog (Orange) sold last spring for $58.4 million, setting a world auction record for a living artist.
Malala portrait to benefit charity
Meanwhile, a portrait of young Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by the Taliban for campaigning for girls' education, is being sold by its British artist to help further her cause.
Jonathan Yeo, a leading British portraitist, painted Yousafzai in 2013 shortly after she started attending a school in Birmingham, England, where she now lives. The painting hung in the National Portrait Gallery in London last year for an exhibition of Yeo's portraits of well-known figures including Sienna Miller, Kevin Spacey and Rupert Murdoch.
Christie's auction house is offering the Malala portrait, which shows the teenager doing her homework, on Wednesday. It has a presale estimate of $60,000 to $80,000. Yeo's said he will donate all the proceeds to The Malala Fund.
"I hope it goes to a good home. Anyone who will hopefully spend a good bit of money on it is someone who sees the importance of her own work," the artist said.
In an interview last week, Yeo said he wanted the portrait to capture "this extraordinary dichotomy" of someone with "enormous power and wisdom" but also someone who is still very young.
"Her birth instinct isn't self-pity but rather what else she could do to help other girls in her position," Yeo added.
He said he spent "a lot of time chatting" with her and "hearing her world views and what her life is like" before sitting down to paint her.
Yeo, whose works are also in the Royal Collection, said he depicted her doing homework to reflect the irony that "the simple everyday thing she's doing was what created the cataclysmic change in her life that nearly killed her."
When the portrait was finished Yeo said Malala told him "it's how she sees herself."