Andy Warhol's Marilyn Monroe portrait sells for record $195M

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Artist Andy Warhol's iconic 1964 portrait of actress Marilyn Monroe sold Monday for $195 million, making it the most expensive American artwork sold at auction.

The sale, which was done at the auction house Christie's in New York, kicks off the Big Apple's major spring auctions, according to The Wall Street Journal. Christie's had described the painting as "one of the rarest and most transcendent images in existence."

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The 1964 painting Shot Sage Blue Marilyn by Andy Warhol is carried in Christie’s showroom in New York City on Sunday, May 8, 2022. The auction house predicts it will sell for $200 million on Monday, becoming the most expensive 20th-century artwork to (AP Images)

The nearly $200 million sale has some art dealers optimistic about future artwork sales.

"This shows that quality and scarcity are always going to push the market forward," Andrew Fabricant, the chief operating officer of Gagosian galleries and a top art dealer, told CNBC ahead of the sale. "It will give a bump psychologically to everyone’s thinking."

The buyer of the iconic artwork has not been identified.

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The 1964 painting Shot Sage Blue Marilyn by Andy Warhol is visible in Christie’s showroom in New York City on Sunday, May 8, 2022. The auction house predicts it will sell for $200 million on Monday, becoming the most expensive 20th-century artwork to (AP Newsroom)

In addition to making history as the most expensive American artwork sold at auction, the Monroe portrait also became the second-most expensive auctioned piece of art, trailing only Leonardo da Vinci’s "Salvator Mundi," which sold for $450 million in 2017.

The "Shot Sage Blue Marilyn" was one of five versions of the portrait Warhol painted two years after Monroe's death in 1964, each with a different color scheme. The portraits were seen as some of Warhol’s most iconic works. Hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin recently purchased an orange version of the painting for more than $200 million.

The portraits, based off a promotional picture of the actress from the 1953 movie "Niagara," became even more famous after a woman came into Warhol’s art studio and fired a gun at a stack of four of them. The shooting would become part of the portraits' titles.

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1956: American actor Marilyn Monroe (1926 – 1962) adjusts her make-up, using a handheld mirror on the set of director Joshua Logan’s film, ‘Bus Stop’. She is standing next to a movie camera in a crowd of people. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images / Getty Images)

The "Shot Sage Blue Marilyn" portrait was not damaged, and the other paintings were repaired.

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The painting sold Monday had been owned by a Swiss art dealer family since the 1980s. The proceeds will go to charity to support health and education programs for children around the globe.

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