The portrait of Warhol Marilyn Monroe is expected to fetch 190 million euros

An Andy Warhol portrait of Marilyn Monroe worth an estimated $200 million (€190 million) is the main attraction at this year’s spring art sales in New York.

Christie’s expects Warhol’s 1964 “Shot Sage Blue Marilyn” to become the most expensive work of art of the 20th century when the auction house puts it under the hammer on Monday.

Not to be outdone, competitor Sotheby’s is offering $1 billion worth of modern and contemporary art, including the second portion of the famed Macklowe Collection, during its flagship week in May.

“The excitement is certainly unprecedented,” Joan Robledo-Palop, collector and CEO of Zeit Contemporary Art in New York, told AFP of the buzz surrounding this season’s auctions.

The 100cm x 100cm Warhol serigraph is part of a series of portraits the pop artist made of Monroe after she died of a drug overdose in August 1962.

They became known as the “Shot” series after a visitor to Warhol’s Factory studio in Manhattan shot them, piercing the portraits which were later repaired.

Alex Rotter, head of 20th and 21st century art at Christie’s, called the portrait “the most important 20th century painting to come to auction in a generation”.

The most expensive current 20th-century work sold at auction is Picasso’s Women of Algiers, which fetched $179.4 million (€170 million) in 2015.

The auction record for a Warhol is 104.5 million dollars (98 million euros) paid for “Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster)” in 2013.

Other Christie’s highlights include Jean-Michel Basquiat’s “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Derelict” (1982), which is expected to fetch over $30 million (€28 million), and “Untitled ( Shades of Red)” by Mark Rothko, is expected to bring in up to $80 million (€75 million).

The auction house is also offering three oils on canvas by Claude Monet which are expected to sell for more than $30 million (28 million euros) each.

“Every two decades you have a sale where the quality is so high that you don’t normally see it all at once. This season has really become one of those unique times,” Mr. Rotter told the AFP.

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