Saturday, June 23, 2007

Andy Warhol's 30 Colored Maos Sells at Sotheby's

Andy Warhol's 30 Colored Maos Sells at Sotheby's

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Andy Warhol silkscreen entitled 30 Coloured Maos (Reversal Series) was sold in Sotheby’s Evening Sale of Contemporary Art for £1.25 million.

LONDON.-An Andy Warhol silkscreen entitled 30 Coloured Maos (Reversal Series) was sold in Sotheby’s Evening Sale of Contemporary Art last night for £1.25 million after being consigned for sale by the Art Loss Register (ALR) on behalf of insurers. The acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas, which sold to a European private collector for a price comfortably within its pre-sale estimate, was stolen in 1980 while on exhibition in Paris and its whereabouts had remained unknown for some 27 years. The missing painting was recovered earlier this year by the ALR, after it was brought into Sotheby’s London for valuation in November 2006.

The Sotheby’s specialist who received the work late last year noted gaps in the painting’s provenance and – as part of his initial research – contacted the ALR, the world’s largest private international database of lost and stolen art, antiques and collectibles. Through its recovery and research services, the ALR was able to track the history of the missing work and resolve an unanswered case for the insurers. Following settlement of the claim, the Warhol became the property of the insurers and was subsequently sold yesterday on their behalf.

Julian Radcliffe OBE, Chairman of the Art Loss Register, commented: “The recovery of this silkscreen after 27 years demonstrates the importance of the Art Loss Register’s central database of stolen art and the rigorous checking of all artworks offered for sale against the database pre-sale. We are thrilled to have played a part in bringing to light this long lost work and we were delighted to see it sell so successfully at Sotheby’s last night.”

Tom Christopherson, Sotheby’s Counsel in Europe, said: “The recovery of the Warhol in the present case is a text book example of how training staff to a heightened awareness of provenance issues combined with the remarkable effectiveness of the Art Loss Register’s database and research services can successfully recover stolen and looted art.”

Commissioned by Bruno Bischofberger for an exhibition at his gallery in Zurich in 1980, 30 Coloured Maos (Reversal Series) is a rare masterpiece from Warhol’s hugely important Reversals series. Signaling a new period of productivity in the artist’s work, the Reversals series – alongside the contemporaneous Retrospectives – introduced a new conceptual vigour to Warhol’s artistic practice. The work revisit’s the iconic images of the Chinese Communist leader painted by Warhol in the early 1970s. Instantly recognisable throughout the Western world thanks to a press-fuelled Cold War preoccupation with the Eastern superpower, Mao Tse Tung’s official portrait was a widely disseminated icon of Communism.

30 Coloured Maos (Reversal Series) was one of six works by Warhol sold in last night’s Contemporary Art sale at Sotheby’s. All together the works fetched a combined total of £4,432,000.

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