January 13, 2011 / 3:14 PM / 8 years ago

Warhol, pinball all appeal at Dennis Hopper auction

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - From the sublime to the silly, artwork, furniture and memorabilia owned by Dennis Hopper was auctioned off in New York this week.

Typical was an Andy Warhol portrait of Mao Zedong which the actor shot two bullets through and still fetched $302,500.

The two-day sale at Christie’s, which ended on Wednesday and combined with a November auction of Hopper’s most valuable art work, totaled more than $14.7 million including the auction house’s commission.

The Warhol, which set a new auction record for a single print from the pop artist’s iconic Mao series, soared to more than 10 times its high pre-sale estimate, while another Warhol screenprint of Marilyn Monroe from 1967 fetched $206,500, about four times the estimate.

But the sale wasn’t only about fine or fashionable art.

Hopper’s annotated script from his seminal, low budget 1969 film “Easy Rider,” a huge hit in which Hopper and Peter Fonda co-starred as bikers on the open road, sold for $20,000.

Hopper’s “Waterworld”-themed pinball machine, from the ill-fated Kevin Costner futuristic saga in which Hopper also starred, sold for $1,375, while his leather Eames chair and ottoman went for $8,750.

Even fans with more modest budgets could pick up a movie poster from Hopper’s collection for a few hundred dollars.

“The unique and varied collection exhibits that clients aren’t simply wooed by the art,” said Cathy Elkies, Christie’s director of iconic collections.

“They are intrigued by the stories behind the works,” she said, referring to the portrait of Mao, who was among Warhol’s iconic subjects.

Hopper’s print was rendered unique after the notoriously wild actor got spooked one night and fired two shots at the 36-inch by 36-inch piece, mistaking the portrait on his wall for Mao himself and shooting it.

Hopper, who died of cancer last year aged 74, later showed Warhol the bullet holes, and the friends agreed the work was now a “collaboration.”

Warhol drew circles around the holes, labeling one over Mao’s right shoulder “warning shot” and one at his upper left eyelid “bullet hole.”

Another highlight of the Hopper sale was Bruce Conner’s multimedia piece “Picnic on the Grass,” which sold for $96,000 against an estimate of only $10,000 to $15,000.

Collectors also snapped up various art works by Hopper’s actor friends who dabbled as artists, including Dean Stockwell, Russ Tamblyn, Viggo Mortensen and Martin Mull, some of which sold for as little as $300.

Two venerable California museums, the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego and The Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, also acquired works.

Thirty-two items were withdrawn from the nearly 300 originally on offer when Hopper’s estranged fifth wife, Victoria Duffy, went to court to contest their sale.

Reporting by Chris Michaud. Editing by Peter Bohan

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