This fall the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts will disperse its entire collection of Warhols, donating some and selling others through Christie’s auction house as it shifts almost exclusively into a grant-making organization.
The sales will take several years to complete and are expected to garner about $100 million, increasing the foundation’s endowment, from which it makes grants to nonprofit arts organizations.
This year the foundation got out of the authentication business, partly because legal disputes — over its verification process for works whose owners said they were by Warhol — were a financial drain. “That’s not the way we think our time and assets should be spent,” said Michael Straus, the foundation’s chairman. “We’d rather see our money go to artists than lawyers.”
Precisely how many works remain in the foundation’s collection is unclear because the foundation does not make public its inventory. Joel Wachs, the president of the foundation, said the number was “in the thousands.” Though the foundation no longer holds any big-ticket works by Warhol, it still possesses a bevy of paintings, prints, photographs and drawings, some of which the public has never seen.
Under its unusual exclusive deal with Christie’s the foundation will sell some of the works through live auctions, the first on Nov. 12, supplemented by online auctions that will begin in February and private sales. With the online auctions Christie’s expects to expand its Internet presence as well as the geographical and demographic scope of its audience. The work will be sold at a variety of price points, with some in the million-dollar range, many under $100,000 and a few under $10,000. The foundation said it would also make donations to museums.
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