A B.C. art collector who was forced to sell an iconic painting of Wayne Gretzky is hoping to get the portrait back when the item goes up for auction this week.

Thirty years ago, Frans Wynans commissioned Andy Warhol to paint a series of portraits of Gretzky at his studio in New York City.

Most of them sold quickly, snatched up by collectors around the world. Wynans kept one in Vancouver, until trouble with finances forced him to part with the portrait.

Andy Warhol Wayne Gretzky painting

The painting is acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas and could sell for nearly $200,000. (Sotheby's)

"During the economic downturn, in order to keep my business running, it needed some cash injection," Wynans said. 

"So I did sell one of the paintings at that point and put the money back into the business to keep her moving. Now we're gonna see if we can add it back in."

On Friday, the painting will be auctioned off at Sotheby's in London, and could sell for as much as $200,000.

Wynans plans to be one of the hopeful bidders.

If his bid is successful, he says he plans to keep the painting in his collection and show it off to fellow art lovers at various special events.

Earlier this year, Wynans filed a lawsuit against the Andy Warhol Foundation over some Polaroid snapshots of Gretzky that were recently sold at auction.

6 Gretzky paintings in all

Gretzky and Warhol met for the portrait session in Warhol's New York studio in 1983.

Gretzky was disappointed there wasn't a hockey stick around, so Frans Wynans, who attended the session, went to a sporting goods shop across the street for one.  

Warhol was allegedly a New York Rangers fan, but said he appreciated Gretzky all the same.

According to Sports Illustrated, Gretzky was unfazed by Warhol's professed devotion to the Rangers. 

In all, there were six Warhol paintings of Gretzky that were unveiled at the Mayflower Club in New York City in 1983. One of the first buyers was Gretzky himself.