Warhol 'Elvis' fetches $37M at NYC auction

Associated Press Modified: May 9, 2012 at 8:31 pm •  Published: May 9, 2012
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NEW YORK (AP) — Andy Warhol's "Double Elvis" sold for $37 million and works by Roy Lichtenstein and Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei broke their own records at Sotheby's contemporary art sale on Wednesday.

Lichtenstein's "Sleeping Girl," depicting a woman with closed eyes and flowing blond hair, fetched $44,882,500; Weiwei's 1-ton, handmade porcelain "Sunflower Seeds" brought $782,500.

Another major work on the auction block — Francis Bacon's "Figure Writing Reflected in Mirror" — sold for $44,882,500. The buyers' names for each of the four pieces were not released.

The sale came on the heels of art auction history. Last week, the auction house sold Edvard Munch's "The Scream" for $119.9 million, making it the most expensive artwork ever sold at auction.

"The reason for these record-breaking sales is, quite simply, the quality of material on show," said Michael Frahm, a contemporary art adviser at the London-based Frahm Ltd. "The key is quality."

Warhol's "Double Elvis (Ferus Type)," a silver silkscreen image of Elvis Presley depicted as a cowboy, fetched $37,042,500. It had been expected to sell for $30 million to $50 million. The auction house said it was the first "Double Elvis" to appear on the market since 1995. Warhol produced a series of 22 images of Elvis. Nine are in museum collections.

The rock and roll heartthrob is shown armed and shooting from the hip, a shadowy Elvis figure faintly visible in the background. It was offered for sale by a private American collector, who acquired it in 1977.

The record for a Warhol is $71.7 million for his "Green Car Crash — Green Burning Car I," sold at Christie's in 2007.

Lichtenstein's "Sleeping Girl," was one of a series of sexy comic book-inspired images created by the artist in the 1960s, the work was exhibited only once — at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles in 1989-90. It was sold by the estate of Los Angeles collectors and philanthropists Beatrice and Phillip Gersh, who were the founding members of MOCA.

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