Outrage over auction of Warhol artworks

Ever wish that Warhol poster in your bedroom was the actual painting? If you have over €100 million (roughly $128 USD), you might be in luck, because two of them are going up for auction.

Andy Warhol’s paintings ― Triple Elvis (1963) and Four Marlons (1966) ― are to be auctioned off in November at Christie’s auction house in New York. This doesn’t sound like anything too out of the ordinary until you consider the opposing opinions. 26 of Germany’s art museum directors have collectively petitioned to prevent the sale of these paintings. The two works were purchased in 1976 by Westspiel casino for about €200,000 ($255,000), according to information from Christie’s, but now Westspiel is ready to sell them.

In the petition by the art museum directors, claims are made that the profits from the auction will go towards the casino’s debt or for the construction of a new casino (this is denied by a Westspiel spokesman). The petition claims that the sale “contravenes international conventions" which aims to “protect public cultural heritage." All in all, the authors of the petition stress that “high-profile art” should be accessible to the public. They do make a very good point.

A similar situation occurred earlier this year with a Jackson Pollock painting ― Number 5 (Elegant Lady) (1951). The $20 million profit attained from that sale was used to fund art and culture institutions. This may not be the case with the Warhols.

As to whether the paintings end up in an art museum, casino foyer or a very rich person’s living room, only time will tell.

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