NEW YORK CITY -- Andy Warhol's Self-Portrait (1963) sold for a record-breaking $38.4 million at a Christie's auction here on May 11. The highlight of Christie's post-war art sale, the painting consists of an acrylic silkscreen on four panels. The images Warhol used for the painting were from a classic coin-op photobooth located in Times Square.
Commissioned by Detroit art collector Florence Barron, the painting's original price was $1,600 (approximately $11,000 in 2011 dollars). An anonymous private collector from Europe won the 16-minute bidding war.
"The painting is remarkable not only for its visual impact and the introduction of the photobooth genre, but for marking a key moment in the history of art, when Warhol takes his place in the pantheon of celebrity alongside Marilyn, Elizabeth and Elvis," said Brett Gorvy, Christie's international co-head and deputy chairman for post-war and contemporary art.
Allen Weisberg, founder and chief executive of Apple Industries, one of the world's leading makers of contemporary photobooths, is not surprised by the bidding war for the pop art icon's painting or his use of a common coin-op machine.
"Warhol was fascinated with the photobooth," Weisberg told VT. "He regularly had celebrities and famous models go to Times Square to have their pictures taken in photobooths. And he was fascinated with the photobooth for the same reason its has lasted 75 years; it's living art. He just realized it before everyone else. He saw it intertwined in art and society. He saw there was something special about a photobooth."