Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol (1928-1987) is one of the world’s most recognised artists. Known as the godfather of the Pop Art movement, his pioneering works elevated consumer and celebrity culture into the realm of fine art.

Investing in Andy Warhol

Warhol’s legacy continues to be felt in contemporary culture and the art market, where he remains one of investors’ favourite artists to invest in.

The Pinnacle of the Post-War & Contemporary Art Market

In May 2022, Andy Warhol broke the record for the most expensive work of art sold at auction by a Post-War or Contemporary artists when his Shot Sage Blue Marilyn, 1964, sold for $195 million at Christie’s New York. It cemented his place at the pinnacle of the art market, continuing a trajectory that has seen the value of his work consistently outperform leading financial markets, including the S&P 500, over the past two decades.

Described as “the bellwether of the art market” by The Economist in 2009, Andy Warhol is often seen as an indicator of the wider strength of the art market and consequently, one of the most popular art investments. But what of his art?

Andy Warhol: the Artist

Born in Pittsburgh in 1928, Warhol trained as an illustrator and graphic designer. This background led him to explore silkscreen printing as a means of artistic production in 1962, a controversial decision due to its associations with commercial arts and advertising. Warhol’s silkscreen paintings explore the relationship between advertising, celebrity culture and artistic expression, and his works, such as Campbell Soup Cans and Marilyns, are amongst the most iconic images ever produced.

Throughout his career, Warhol embraced his own celebrity status, embodied by his bright white wig and legendary studio, the Factory, and coupled it with boundless experimentation in his paintings, prints, drawings, photographs and films. His talent for melding everyday objects, one-of-a-kind celebrities, and artistic expression to create colourful art that appealed to the masses, has left a legacy that has continued to grow following his untimely death at 58. “I am a mass communicator,” Warhol once told an interviewer. His work still speaks volumes to this day.

Andy Warhol: his Market

Like any investment, Warhol’s market has not been a straight upward line. However, much like art as an investment more generally, Warhol’s market has shown a low correlation with the stock market and high liquidity – as measured in terms of sales volume – compared to other artists; two factors that characterise useful alternative investments. Since 2012, over 1200 works by Warhol have been sold annually with totals exceeding $100 million and reaching as high as $520 million.

The value of Warhol’s work really began to take off in the mid-2000s. The Wall Street collectors, whose purchasing habits were helping drive the growth of the wider art market, identified with Warhol’s imagery and began to invest in Warhol. Subsequently, Warhol’s market grew, and in 2007, Warhol’s annual auction sales first peaked at $434 million1, with the broader auction market peaking at $32.9 billion2. Seven years later in 2014, the Warhol auction market reached a new high of $603 million3 against a broader auction market of $32.7 billion4. Warhol was the eminent market artist.

Between 2016 and 2020 there was a re-alignment as Warhol’s dominance in the art market was shared across other leading Post-War and Contemporary artists – think Jean-Michel Basquiat, Mark Rothko, Gerhard Richter – leading to a healthier, and more diverse art market. Collectors hadn’t stopped investing in Warhol though, he continued to sell over 1,200 lots per year at auction, simply the supply of truly top works had slowed.

This was confirmed by two factors—continuing high average prices and very strong prices in the market for Warhol prints—both of which showed that Warhol market was still buoyant, collectors were still looking to invest in Warhol, and most of all showed that any constraints on the Warhol market come from the supply side.

The recent record sale of Shot Sage Blue Marilyn only serves to illustrate this: a new world-record that emphasised Warhol’s position as not only an art market stalwart but one of the world’s most important artists.

Interested in investing in Warhol?

Mintus is delighted to offer an original Warhol painting as an art investment offering on its platform. Sign up and create a free account here to view our Warhol.

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  1. LiveArt, ‘Warhol’s Marilyn and the Art Market’, April 2022
  2. UBS & Art Basel Art Market Report 2017
  3. LiveArt, ‘Warhol’s Marilyn and the Art Market’, April 2022
  4. UBS & Art Basel Art Market Report 2017

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