Enduring value from the velvet underground

Collecting: Andy Warhol's art isn't a 15-minute wonder

For someone who once predicted that everybody would be famous for 15 minutes, Andy Warhol has had far more than his fair share. And there are no signs of his popularity declining.

"He was one of the great artists of the 20th century," says Susan Harris, director of the modern and contemporary prints department at auction house Sotheby's. "His imagery has such appeal. Young people can relate to it and it's instantly recognisable. Anyone who bought one of his prints in 1994 will certainly have seen a return on their investment."

Murray Macaulay of rival auctioneer Christie's agrees: "We've seen a definite increase in the value of Warhol's work, particularly in the last two or three years. There was an exhibition at the Tate Modern three years ago which helped boost interest, and it's looking very strong at the moment."

Tom Sokolowski, director of the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, says part of Warhol's genius, and a reason for his enduring popularity, was that he produced accessible art.

"He used a style people were comfortable with," he says, "with subjects that people were familiar with, and in different sizes so that at least one would fit in their homes. He once said: 'Art galleries should be like department stores', letting you go in and shop for what you wanted. He understood the market and his popularity has lasted."

Warhol started off working in advertising in New York. Within three years he was the highest- paid illustrator in the city. A sale this week at Sotheby's includes a number of works that show his ability as an illustrator, along with his groundbreaking printmaking. A series based on the hammer and sickle (estimated value: £8,000 to £10,000) is one example, next to the unusual Details of Renaissance Paintings (£2,500 to £4,000).

One advantage of buying Warhol prints, as opposed to his paintings, is affordability. "He was one of the first artists to use silk-screen printing seriously," says Ms Harris. These are not just mass-produced prints. Each one is signed by him and stamped with a number. With the Mao set and the Marilyn set, for example, he did 10 different colour combinations and prin-ted 250 of each. It means that you can buy a genuine portrait by a great artist for under £10,000."

The Sotheby's sale includes sets of icons such as Marilyn Monroe (estimated value £230,000 to £260,000 for the whole set of 10), Chairman Mao (£2,000 to £8,000 each) and Liz Taylor (£4,000 to £6,000 each). It also includes what Warhol called his "10 Jews": photographs of personalities such as Einstein, Freud and the Marx Brothers (£30,000 for the complete set).

Mr Sokolowski says the artist's stock will continue to rise. "Warhols have such a personal style that, even if you hate them, you'd know a Warhol as soon as you saw one," he says. "If you saw one on someone's wall, you'd know they had money. It's a label - and Andy understood labels better than anyone."

Mr Macaulay agrees: "When you see the portraits of Marilyn Monroe, you think of Warhol before you think Monroe. He is so associated with the mid-20th century that the popularity of his work will certainly last."

The original paintings are the most valuable. One of Mick Jagger sold recently for $150,000, while one of Monroe fetched $17.5m. His first Campbell's Soup series, which originally went on the market in 1961-62 for $200, didn't sell at the time. Later, they went for for $37m.

Even Warhol-related items could be worth investing in. Christie's has a poster from an exhibition at the Tate in 1971, signed by the artist, for sale this week: it is expected to fetch £500 to £700. A couple of designs for the jacket of his book The Philosophy of Andy Warhol, which he also signed, have an estimated value of £1,500 to £2,000.

As with most collections, aim for the best-quality prints when investing in Warhol's works. "The condition of the prints that come up for sale varies a lot," says Ms Harris. "But if you get one in good condition, you'll know you have an original graphic work by an artist who was a master printer."



From £500 for a Warhol-related item to over £20m for an original painting of an icon.

More information

Christie's, www.christies.co.uk; Sotheby's, www.sothebys. co.uk; the Andy Warhol Museum, www.warhol.org; www.warhol.dk - a website dedicated to the artist.

2004 events

30 June: Pop Art 1954-1974, Christie's, London. 1 July: Andy Warhol and the Pop Generation, Sotheby's, London (viewing starts today).

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

    £15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Advisor is r...

    Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

    £22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

    SThree: HR Benefits Manager

    £40000 - £50000 per annum + pro rata: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

    Day In a Page

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn