Warhol Self-Portrait Tops $17 Million

A self-portrait by Andy Warhol brought more than $17 million at a Christie’s sale in London Wednesday. The high estimate was just over $8 million. According to the auction notes, the Self-Portrait series of 1967, originally made for the American Pavilion (a huge geodesic dome designed by Buckminster Fuller) at Expo ’67 in Montreal, constitutes the images by which Warhol is best known to the public. They came at the point in his career when he had the confidence to accept his status as star and celebrity, as their large, six-foot-by-six-foot scale confirms. They are Warhol’s most archetypal projection – as iconic now as his portraits of Marilyn. Yet Warhol still insisted, for himself, on a certain obscurity. Posed with his fingers against the mouth (long a received symbol of contemplation), his face half hidden in shadow, it is Warhol-as-observer par excellence: he sees us more clearly than we see him. The mottled paint accentuates the notion of the picture as an impenetrable surface. In their detachment, these 1967 self-portraits avoid direct, self-confident confrontation with the viewer.’

Thursday at Phillips de Pury & Co’s, a 1985 Jean-Michel Basquiat painting titled “overrun” was the most expensive lot, topping $8.7 million.

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