Warhol bought for $1,600 could fetch $30 million

Fri Apr 8, 2011 2:27pm EDT
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By Chris Michaud

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - An Andy Warhol self-portrait purchased in 1963 for $1,600 on an installment plan is poised to fetch $30 million or more when it hits the auction block at Christie's in May.

"Self-Portrait," a four-panel acrylic silkscreen depicting the pop artist wearing a trench coat and sunglasses, is being sold by the family of Detroit collector Florence Barron.

Barron first commissioned Warhol to paint her portrait, but changed her mind and suggested the young artist depict himself, telling him, "Nobody knows me ... They want to see you."

The result was Warhol's first self portrait, four images taken in a coin-operated photo booth rendered in hues of blue.

"My mother didn't look at collecting in terms of 'is this important or not important,'" Guy Barron told Reuters.

"She looked at it from the standpoint of what resonated with her, and of 'I want to live with it.' It was not done as some people do today, as wall power."

The portrait graced the living room wall of the family home in Detroit. It also went on public display, serving as the cover image for catalogs from major Warhol exhibitions and retrospectives at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain.

Brett Gorvy, Christie's international co-head and deputy chairman for post-war and contemporary art, said the work marked the beginning of Warhol's own stardom.   Continued...

<p>Andy Warhol's "Self-Portrait" is seen in an undated handout photo. REUTERS/Christie's Images Ltd. 2010/Handout</p>