Warhol's "Double Elvis" could fetch $50 million at auction

Fri Mar 16, 2012 3:49am EDT
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By Chris Michaud

NEW YORK (Reuters) - An iconic portrait of Elvis Presley by pop artist Andy Warhol is poised to fetch as much as $50 million when it hits the auction block in May, Sotheby's said on Thursday.

The life-size painting, "Double Elvis (Ferus Type)" from 1963, epitomizes Warhol's obsessions with fame, stardom and the public image, according to Sotheby's.

Estimated to sell for $30 million to $50 million, it will be included in the auction house's May 9 sale of post-war and contemporary art.

"The silver background of 'Double Elvis (Ferus Type)', along with the subtle variations in tone give the serial imagery a sense of rhythmic variation that recalls the artist's masterpiece, '200 One Dollar Bills' completed the previous year," Sotheby's said in a statement.

That work soared to nearly $44 million or four times its estimate in 2009, when the art market was reeling from the financial crisis that struck in 2008. It was the highlight of the season, and achieved the highest price of any work at the fall auctions.

In the "Double Elvis" work, Presley is dressed as a cowboy, shooting a gun. Sotheby's described him in the work "a Hollywood icon of the sixties rather than the rebellious singer who shook the world of music in the sixties."

The double in the title refers to a shadowy image of Presley in the same pose that appears next to him in the work.

Of 22 works in Warhol's Elvis series which were first exhibited at Los Angeles' Ferus gallery, nine are in museum collections, including the Museum of Modern Art.   Continued...

A unidentified man watches the artwork "Elvis I and II" by U.S. pop artist Andy Warhol in Berlin October 5, 2001. REUTERS/Alexandra Winkler