Warhol: Artist’s ‘selfie’ expected to sell for £7m at auction

This year, for the first time ever, Andy Warhol’s inaugural photo-booth ‘selfie’ will go to auction. Created in 1963, the print is expected to sell for a staggering £7 million, according to reports.
Decades before the selfie culture that we now see today swept across the globe, Warhol was embracing this type of self-portrait. The print, that was taken in a standard New York dime store photo-booth, is believed to have contributed towards Warhol’s move from artist to celebrity.
It was this photo-booth picture that became an iconic image of the world-renowned American artist and was a distinctive feature of his work until he passed away in 1987.
On June 28th, the selfie will go under the hammer at Sotheby’s in London. This is the first time it has ever been put to auction as it was previously part of a personal collection, since the 1980s.
Although selfies have mostly become popular in the past couple of years, art enthusiasts believe Warhol’s image draws on the cult of celebrity that he was completely obsessed with.
Warhol once professed that “in the future, everyone would be world famous for 15 minutes”, and now, with social media websites like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook becoming increasingly popular, his statement seems truly prophetic.
Sotheby’s senior specialist in contemporary art, James Sevier, commented: “The artist’s first self-portraits – created using a strip of photographs taken in a New York dime store photo-booth – have never felt more relevant to contemporary culture.
“This is a work of immense art historical importance that marks the watershed moment when Warhol joined the canon of the greatest self-portraitists.”
Alex Branczik, Sotheby’s head of contemporary art in Europe, told the Guardian that use of a photo-booth was very fitting for Warhol. He said that no matter who you are in society, whether you’re a struggling artist, student or successful businessman, everybody has to sit in a photo-booth at some point and have their photo’s taken, in the same format and same way.
“This was an idea that really appealed to Warhol, who was a great democratiser,” said Branczik. He went on to say that the first self-portrait was a reminder of how relevant Warhol’s works, and reflections on culture, celebrity and narcissism, are today.
“Warhol would love a good selfie stick I think,” he remarked.
Previous to his selfie image, Warhol had created many distinctive portraits of icons such as Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and Elvis Presley. It is believed that the self-portrait idea was one suggested by the art dealer Ivan Karp who told the famous artist that people wanted to see him. “Your looks are responsible for a certain part of your fame, they feed the imagination,” Mr Karp told Warhol.