NEW YORK (Reuters) - An Andy Warhol self-portrait completed shortly before his death is expected to sell for as much as $40 million at auction next month, Christie's said on Wednesday.
"Self-Portrait," a large haunting depiction of Warhol rendered in deep red and black, was done in 1986 and displayed in a widely praised gallery show in London just months before he died after routine surgery in New York.
"It is a rare event that a work of this grandeur and stature comes to market," said Amy Cappellazzo, Christie's international co-head and deputy chairman of post-war and contemporary art.
"With all the other examples in museums, it will be the last chance that buyers will have to bid on a work that shifted art history," she added about the sale on May 11.
The record price for a Warhol self-portrait is $32.6 million set last May at Sotheby's in New York. "Green Car Crash (Green Burning Car I)," which Christie's sold for a whopping $71.7 million in 2007, is the record for any Warhol sold at auction.
Two weeks ago Christie's announced it would sell the pop artist's very first self portrait, a 1963 four-panel acrylic silkscreen depicting him in a trench coat and sunglasses being sold by the family of Detroit collector Florence Barron, who commissioned it for $1,600. It is expected to fetch $30 million or more.
At the time of the 1986 exhibition, art historian Robert Rosenblum observed that Warhol was addressing one of art's great themes of an aging master looking at himself with "melancholy introspection," not unlike the self-portraits of Rembrandt and Van Gogh.
Of the large self-portraits Warhol painted in 1986, the other six are all in museums, including the New York's Guggenheim and the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, or in foundation collections.