Shot Marilyns

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Shot Marilyns
Publicity portrait of Marilyn Monroe for the 1953 film Niagara

Shot Marilyns is a series of silkscreen paintings produced in 1964 by Andy Warhol, each canvas measuring 40 inches square, and each a portrait of Marilyn Monroe.


Pop artist Andy Warhol had a fascination with Hollywood and fame. A legend of the silver screen, Marilyn Monroe is widely considered to be the epitome of Hollywood glamour.[1] After her death at the age of 36 in August 1962, Warhol began immortalizing her in his work.[2] "In August '62 I started doing silkscreens.... It was all so simple-quick and chancy. I was thrilled with it. My first experiments with screens were heads of Troy Donahue and Warren Beatty, and then when Marilyn Monroe happened to die that month, I got the idea to make screens of her beautiful face — the first Marilyns."[2]

In 1964, Warhol created portraits of Monroe based on a publicity photo for her 1953 film Niagara.[2] He painted five Marilyn silkscreen portraits with different colored backgrounds: red, orange, light blue, sage blue, and turquoise,[3] and stored them at The Factory, his studio on East 47th Street in Manhattan.


Dorothy Podber, a performance artist and friend of Factory photographer Billy Name, saw the recently completed paintings stacked against one another at the studio and asked Warhol if she could shoot them. Believing that she intended to photograph the paintings, Warhol agreed.[4] Podber doffed her pair of black gloves, withdrew a small revolver from her purse, and fired a shot into the stack of four paintings, which became known as The Shot Marilyns. The fifth painting with the turquoise background was not in the stack.[5]

In the 2002 documentary How to Draw a Bunny, Name described this event as a "performance piece" by Podber. After she had shot the paintings and left, Andy Warhol purportedly asked Name to please ask Podber not to do that again.[6] She was, however, henceforth barred from The Factory for life.[4]


Blue Shot Marilyn was purchased by Peter Brant for $5,000 in 1967.[7][8]

Shot Red Marilyn was sold to Masao Wanibuchi for $4.1 million at Christie's in 1989.[9] In the midst of an art market recession, he sold it at a loss to Philip Niarchos for $3.6 million in 1994.[10]

Orange Marilyn was bought for $17.3 million by Si Newhouse in 1998.[11] After his death, Kenneth C. Griffin purchased it for around $200 million in 2017.[12][3]

Turquoise Marilyn was bought by Steve Cohen in 2007 for a rumored $80 million.[13]

Shot Sage Blue Marilyn was auctioned by Christie's in New York City on May 9, 2022. It sold for $195 million from the Foundation of Thomas and Doris Ammann.[14] This sale greatly extended the record for a price paid at auction for a work by an American artist set by Jean-Michel Basquiat's 1982 painting Untitled, which sold for $110.5 million in 2017.[15] It also set the mark for the most expensive work of 20th century art sold in a public sale.[16][17] The purchaser was the American art dealer Larry Gagosian. It has not been disclosed as of yet whether he was buying the work for himself or a secondary party.[18][19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Morgan, Lucy (2022-05-06). "Is Kim Kardashian the modern day Marilyn Monroe?". Glamour UK. Retrieved 2022-05-11.
  2. ^ a b c "Andy Warhol's Marilyn: an icon of beauty | Christie's". Retrieved 2022-05-10.
  3. ^ a b "Have We Had an Orange Marilyn Moment?". Art Market Monitor. 2018-01-05. Retrieved 2022-05-11.
  4. ^ a b Dorothy Podber: 'Witch' who shot Warhol's Marilyns, Charles Darwent. 13 March 2008.
  5. ^ Williams, Emily (March 23, 2022). "Iconic Andy Warhol Portrait of Marilyn Monroe Could Sell for Record-Breaking $200 Million". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved 2022-05-11.
  6. ^ Walter, John W. (dir). How to Draw a Bunny, 2002
  7. ^ "Hating It Is a Good Sign: Peter Brant on Collecting". Wall Street Journal. 2011-05-07. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2022-05-11.
  8. ^ "Warhol's Main Man". Wall Street Journal. 2013-04-24. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2022-05-11.
  9. ^ Reif, Rita (1989-05-04). "A Warhol 'Red Marilyn' Sets Record at Christie's". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-05-11.
  10. ^ Vogel, Carol (1994-11-03). "At $3.6 Million, Warhol's 'Marilyn' Is a Star Again". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-05-11.
  11. ^ Polsky, Richard (2022-05-02). "The Wild History of the Warhol Marilyn That's Set to Fetch $200 Million". Artsy. Retrieved 2022-05-11.
  12. ^ "Casino Magnate Purchases A 'Marilyn' for $3 Million". Wall Street Journal. 24 July 1998.
  13. ^ "Steve Cohen, billionaire hedge fund manager, is lending works to US and UK museums". 30 September 2007.
  14. ^ Ulaby, Neda (2022-05-09). "A Warhol 'Marilyn' brings a record auction price, $195 million". NPR. Retrieved 2022-05-10.
  15. ^ "Who's Gagosian, the Winning Bidder for Warhol's $195 Million 'Marilyn'". 2022-05-10. Retrieved 2022-05-10.
  16. ^ "WARHol's MARILYN | Christie's".
  17. ^ "Marilyn Monroe Portrait Becomes Most Expensive 20th Century Artwork Sold". Retrieved 2022-05-10.
  18. ^ "Who's Gagosian, the Winning Bidder for Warhol's $195 Million 'Marilyn'". 10 May 2022.
  19. ^ "Why Larry Gagosian Bought Andy Warhol's Marilyn Monroe Portrait for a Record $195 Million". Forbes.

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