Liquidating Pop Culture: Warhol Estate to Sell Off 20,000 Artworks

But don't worry, your Warhol will still be worth something

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Luke MacGregor / Reuters

Gallery employee Maddy Adeane poses with Andy Warhol's "Campbell's Soup II" (1969) and "Sunset" (1972) at the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London June 19, 2012. The exhibition "Andy Warhol: The Portfolios", on show in Europe for the first time, runs from June 20 until September 16, 2012.

Your chances of obtaining a piece of Andy Warhol art will increase exponentially when his estate auctions off the remaining 20,000-plus pieces it still owns, starting in November.

Art collectors worry the sell-off will flood the market with Warhol’s famed pop culture work and water down the prices for the about 200 works a year that currently get traded, according to the Wall Street Journal. But the folks at the Warhol estate say a sale of more than 20,000 pieces will add at least $100 million to the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and drastically slash operating costs for a foundation spending a large sum of money on housing—and insuring—a trove of Warhol work.

The foundation already runs a Warhol museum in the artist’s hometown of Pittsburgh with more than 8,000 pieces and has no real use for the current collection of art, other than to slowly whittle down its collection through individual sales, picking up extra cash along the way.

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Foundation chairman Michael Straus told the Wall Street Journal that instead of sitting on the work, the foundation is “converting art into money.” With a $225 million endowment already, adding another $100 million to the foundation’s permanent cache could bolster the programs offered by the New York-based organization.

The $25 billion art-trading industry enjoys the movement of Warhol works, everything from paintings of Campbell’s Soup cans to Michael Jackson, to the tune of $346 million in 2011, and an influx of new work could either set the trading ablaze or simply oversaturate collectors the market. But the estate isn’t going to simply dump $100 million worth of work into the market at once. To kick off the sale of 350 silk-screen paintings, thousands of drawings and prints, as well as photographs and archival material, the foundation plans to start with a Christie’s auction in November. From there, they’ll move to online auctions spread out over the course of multiple years. That means Warhol hype will be high for quite some time.

Just don’t expect any famed paintings to get unearthed in the 20,000-piece haul currently in storage. Plan instead for plenty of small pieces, including thousands of Polaroid pictures, that stretch back to his pre-15-minutes-of-fame days. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be some gems in there too, such as a 19-foot-long “Three Targets” silk-screen painting and a colorful butterfly painting, “Endangered Species: San Francisco Silverspot,” both estimated to fetch near $1.5 million, according to Business Insider. With a picture of Farrah Fawcett, a paper collage portrait of Jacqueline Kennedy and even a self-portrait photo in the mix, there will be plenty of pieces from which to choose. Get those paddles ready.

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