Andy Warhol’s Elvis triptych sells for $81.9m

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elvisAndy Warhol’s Triple Elvis has sold for $81.9m (£51.9m) at an auction of post-war and contemporary art in New York.

The 1963 work, which used ink and silver paint to depict the music icon as a gun-toting cowboy, was sold to an anonymous European telephone bidder.

The pop artist’s quadruple portrayal of actor Marlon Brando was also auctioned for almost $70m (£44.3m).

Christie’s said the auction commanded a total of $852.9m (£540m), breaking its record for an sale of art of its kind.

Two iconic works by Andy Warhol fetched the highest prices

Warhol’s two large portraits had been acquired by a German casino house in the 1970s.

The Presley image was one of 22 versions made by Warhol, while the Brando artwork – which repeats the same image four times – was one of only two, which were made in 1967.

Meanwhile, lots by Cy Twombly and Willem de Kooning reached world record prices for those artists.

Balloon Monkey (Orange) by Jeff Koons
Jeff Koons’ giant Balloon Monkey (Orange) was on display outside Christie’s New York headquarters

De Kooning’s life-size Clamdigger from 1972 stood at the entrance to his Long Island studio for four decades and sold for $29.2m (£18.5m).

An untitled 1970 painting from Cy Twombly’s Blackboard series fetched $69.9m (£44.3m), more than tripling his previous record.

An outsized sculpture of a monkey by Jeff Koons was another auction highlight, being snapped up for $25.9m (£16.4m).

But Balloon Monkey (Orange) failed to match the $58.4m (£37m) price paid for Balloon Dog (Orange) last year, which earned Koons the title of the most expensive living artist.

Christie’s chief executive officer Stephen Murphy said the auction was “a moment in art history”.

He added that its success proved that “enjoying works of art has become a universal pursuit in our time”.

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