Andy Warhol’s ‘Liz’ Becomes Market Bellwether

The art market’s a-poppin’!

Three New York auctions are expected to rake in $2 billion over the next few weeks: an unheard of prediction in a field once dominated by struggling, starving artists. While dozens of pieces will be bought and sold during the coming days, there’s one piece in particular that may predict whether the market’s about to burst. From the Guardian-Unlimited:

An Andy Warhol work owned by [Hugh Grant] will go on sale in New York as a centrepiece of Christie’s auction of post-war and contemporary art. The portrait of Elizabeth Taylor, called Liz, from 1963, is expected to fetch up to $35m (£17m), 10 times the sum that Grant paid for it at a Sotheby’s auction in 2001. Or to look at it another way, a profit of about $5m for every year he has owned the painting. Not bad work if you can get it.

How well the Warhol performs at auction tonight has ramifications that go far beyond the state of Grant’s already healthy finances. The sale marks the start of two weeks of New York auctions by the three big houses – Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Phillips de Pury – that are being closely watched by art dealers, collectors and artists themselves for clues to the art market.

A poor sale for the iconic Liz could indicate a market turn around, which would destroy the livelihoods of countless, filthy rich artists and forcibly reintroduce some long-lost occupational inspiration. After that: Armageddon.