Liz#5, Andy Warhol’s portrait of actress Elizabeth Taylor, fetched $26,962,500 on the Phillips de Pury’s Contemporary Art Part I sale. Three other Warhol pieces, Flowers, Third Eye and Witch, were also sold on the auction block Thursday. Each sold for $8,146,500, $7,026,500 and $2,658,500, respectively.
The silkscreen, which is one of a number of pieces by Warhol that celebrate the American actress, was offered by art collector and hedge fund financier Steve Cohen. Prior to its sale, Liz #5 garnered a lot of interest in the art world, said Michael McGinnis, who heads the contemporary department at Philips de Pury & Co. He guessed that Taylor’s death would bring a renewed interest to the piece, but that its artistry makes it valuable on its own.
We’re thrilled with the strong results of the evening sale. Our results tonight are more than double this time last year due to the strengthening of the market and also to our new location at 450 Park Avenue, which has boosted the company, said Simon de Pury, Chairman and Chief Auctioneer of Philips de Pury & Company.
Liz #5 is a silkscreen picture of ink and acrylic on linen. Measuring 40-by-40 inches, it reveals Taylor’s face as she was already a presence in American culture. She appears on a turquoise background, her skin a glowing pink, her unmistakable eyes painted violet and her lips lathered in red. The colored Liz series includes 13 pieces.