Andy Warhol is one of the few artists who has eschewed the traditional “starving artist” complex, achieving great commercial success throughout his lifetime. He was very candid with his love affair with money, famously stating, “Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.” Even from the time that Warhol was working as a commercial illustrator before his career as an independent fine artist, he was rewarded for his artistic virtuoso. While Warhol was a huge success throughout his artistic career — at one point receiving $25,000 per commissioned portrait — the commercial value of his art has only continued to rise.
An analysis of the trends in the Warhol art market of how his prints and paintings have sold throughout the years is indicative of how they are some of the most valuable pieces to collect and sell. In 1998, one of Warhol’s Marilyn’s sold for $332,500 and in only a little more than a decade’s time, that same painting was sold for $3.746 million dollars. Warhol’s gold Marilyn was sold to architect Phillip Johnson in 1964 for $2,000, which was then donated to MoMA. If that painting were to be sold now, it is estimated to bring in up to $60 million.
Since Warhol art market sales reached its peak in 2007, there has been no significant decline in the demand for his work, only a steady increase. In 2011, Warhol was third in the global ranking for revenue of art sold for the year. The sales of his work amounted to $325 million, passing Pablo Picasso, a steady fixture in the top 3 of the list. In 2012, Warhol claimed the title as the “world’s biggest seller at an auction” resulting from the $37 million dollar sale of his Double Elvis and his Statue of Liberty, which sold for $43.7 million. But Warhol’s current record was set by the 2013 sale of Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster) through Sotheby’s, for a cool $105.4 million.
Trends reveals that there continues to be a high demand for Andy Warhol’s work, evident from the record-breaking sales that have occurred within the past three years alone. One does not have to be an expert financier to comprehend how massive the return is for a Warhol investment.