Warhol’s Elizabeth Taylor portrait to star in May 12 NYC auction

Andy Warhol (American, 1928-1987), Liz #5, 1963 silkscreen portrait of Elizabeth Taylor, to be auctioned May 12 at Phillips de Pury's Manhattan gallery. Image courtesy of Phillips de Pury.

Andy Warhol (American, 1928-1987), Liz #5, 1963 silkscreen portrait of Elizabeth Taylor, to be auctioned May 12 at Phillips de Pury’s Manhattan gallery. Image courtesy of Phillips de Pury.

New York – An iconic 1963 Andy Warhol silkscreen portrait of film legend Elizabeth Taylor will be auctioned on May 12, 2011 at Phillips de Pury’s Manhattan gallery. The painting is entered in part I of the company’s Contemporary Art auction and is expected to make $20 million to $30,000. Internet live bidding will be provided by LiveAuctioneers.com.

Liz #5 is a pristine gem. It is Warhol at his very best with a perfect screen, glowing colors, and impeccable provenance,” said Michael McGinnis, Senior Director and Worldwide Head, Contemporary Art for Phillips de Pury. “She is classic yet every bit as cutting edge as she was when Warhol painted her nearly 50 years ago. Liz #5 embodies everything that a major collector of 20th and 21st century art desires and we are thrilled to offer this rare and exciting opportunity to the market.”

Liz #5 was painted at the height of the actress’ fame, which coincided with the most significant and creative period of Warhol’s career. The glamorous portrait embodies the most important themes of Warhol’s oeuvre including celebrity, wealth, scandal, sex, death and Hollywood. The epitome of old-world Hollywood style and glamour, Liz Taylor – who died on March 23 – was one of Warhol’s most famous inspirations, alongside Marilyn Monroe and Jackie Kennedy. Taylor captured Warhol’s attention early on with her life’s high-profile romances and tragedy; it was this vibrancy and pathos that so attracted Warhol to her and ensured she was a formidable influence on his work throughout his career. In his own words he once said, “Elizabeth Taylor, ohhhh. She’s so glamorous.”

In Liz #5, Taylor’s unforgettable face emerges from a rich turquoise background, perfectly capturing her luminous skin, striking violet eyes and red lips. The power of her attraction has never been as evident as it is in this Warhol painting – a dazzling tribute to Elizabeth Taylor. This striking portrait is a testament to the legend and beauty of one of the world’s most beloved and iconic actresses, both capturing her very essence and transcending the limits of time.

Liz #5 was acquired by the consignor – rumored to be hedge fund manager Steve Cohen of SAC Capital – from the estate of famed art dealer and collector Ileana Sonnabend. Beginning in the early 1960s her gallery was instrumental in introducing postwar American Art to Europe and she represented the most prolific and groundbreaking artists of her time including Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol. Liz #5 remained in her personal art collection until her death in 2007. This is the first time a work from her estate will come to auction and it offers the rare possibility to acquire one of the Sonnabend treasures in the open market.

Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available for the May 12 auction, and an electronic catalog will appear online at www.LiveAuctioneers.com in April.

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