The Warhol Bubble
THE SOURCE: “A One-Man Market” by Bryan Appleyard, in Intelligent Life, Nov.–Dec. 2011.
In 1962, a 33-year-old graphic designer turned artist held his first solo show at a gallery in Los Angeles. The response was unremarkable. The gallery sold only five of the 32 paintings it displayed—each a painstaking reproduction of a Campbell’s soup can (one for each variety) for $100 apiece.
More than 30 years later, in 1996, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City bought the series for $15 million. The man behind the soup cans, Andy Warhol, had come to be seen as a contemporary artist of singular importance. Now, it looks like MoMA got a bargain; one Warhol painting, Eight Elvises, went for more than $100 million in 2008. In 2010, Warhol’s works accounted for a jaw-dropping 17 percent of contemporary art auction revenues worldwide.
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