On June 17th, 2014, Warhol’s 1986 self-portrait wearing a fright wig was sold for $32 million at Art Basel. The iconic painting was bought by American collectors off the booth of Skarstedt Gallery, a New York and London based gallery that focuses on artists of the late 20th Century. This landmark sale is the highest price paid for a Warhol self-portrait and is a still-standing record for a work of Warhol’s from the 1980s.
Art Basel, held once a year in Switzerland, is the premier international art show of its’ kind in bringing leading galleries from around the world to showcase the most iconic Modern and Contemporary works. Andy Warhol’s 1986 self-portrait was the most expensive artwork sold at the show, and was bought in the first 15 minutes!
However, it is not surprising that this self-portrait was in such high demand. Warhol’s glowing iconic face and signature ‘frightwig’ emerging from the dark background, with his eyes gazing directly at the viewer, is electrifying. Additionally, it elicits a sense of timeliness, as this self-portrait was one of the last series of paintings he completed before his unexpected death in 1987.
Warhol has always been able to make a statement with his works, and his signature ‘frightwig’ has been a staple in conveying this vibrant persona. Frightwig originated as an all-female Feminist Punk Rock American band from San Francisco, California. They gained much attention for defending their right to be on stage with men. As a result, their spiky wild hair soon became iconic for their defiance of convention, and this bold statement soon began trending.
Warhol’s use of this iconic look in his self-portrait could be seen as symbolic of his own defiance of convention in having the desire to shock the world and be larger-than-life. The high-priced selling of Warhol’s 1986 self-portrait demonstrates Warhol’s strong and lasting value that he still has on the market, both privately and publicly. Andy Warhol is an artist that remains in high demand, for although he is gone, his works exude a sense of life that can never be taken away.