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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Warhol Found in the Closet

Proving that some people have more than just skeletons in their closet, a New York woman recently sold a Warhol piece at auction which had been stored next to her coats for more than 40 years. The piece, a self-portrait of Andy Warhol, measures nearly two feet square and captures a pensive artist with his hand over his mouth. The image resembles a colorful negative, his face defined by red shadows over a light blue surface, the background dominated by red and purple blocks of color. Offered for auction on 11 November 2009, the estimate of $1.5 million was shattered by a six million dollar final bid.

Nearly as shocking as the price is the provenance of the piece its self. The piece, owned by Cathy Naso, had been stored in her closet since she accepted it as payment from the artist for her secretarial work at the Factory, a well-known artist hangout in New York City. Seventeen when she accepted the post, it seems from the inscription that she did not get paid until she received the painting two years later in 1967; her patience seems to have paid off in a big way. The painting was battled over by more than seven separate bidders, eventually selling for more than three times the pre-sale estimates.

This is not the first time a story about Andy Warhol trading art for services has appeared in the media. Rumor has it that in exchange for Bob Dylan’s appearance in one of Warhol’s experimental films the singer songwriter took home a silkscreen Warhol had created of Elvis dressed as a cowboy and pointing a gun. This painting was then rumored to have been traded for a couch, an incredibly lopsided exchange that will leave those with a spare couch green with envy.

This latest bit of news from the art world illustrates two important points in relation to art appraisal. First, a piece of art inherited or long forgotten can indeed be worth a lot of money and second, that piece of art must be brought into a competent appraisal office for a professional opinion or report. This opinion can assuage curiosity but is also a necessity for anyone hoping to insure a painting, print, sculpture or piece of jewelry. MIR Appraisal Services, Inc. is one such reputable house of appraisal that has a solid reputation of excellence. Each senior appraiser has in excess of 20 years of experience and a staff of dedicated researchers to support them. Regardless of which appraiser you choose to give your business to it is important that you spend time to research them, and their website is the best place to start. Look for richness of content, dedication to detail and a statement of ethics that is as sound as it is trustworthy.

Justin Bergquist
MIR Appraisal Services, Inc.
307 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 308
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 814-8510

Works Cited:
“Lost Andy Warhol Painting Could Get $1 Million at Auction,” in Huffington Post Online.
“Andy Warhol’s Iconic 200 One Dollar Bills from 1962 Sells for $43,762,500 at Sotheby’s,” on

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    Chicago, Illinois, United States
    Welcome to our blog site! MIR Appraisal Services, Inc. is a fine art and personal property appraisal company dedicated to serving clients throughout the United States and abroad since our incorporation in Chicago in 1994. We specialize in the multi-faceted field of appraising fine art, jewelry, antiques, and decorative items. We also provide professional fine art restoration and conservation treatment for various media, including but not limited to, artworks on canvas, board, masonite, and paper. We offer professional and precise appraisal services carried out by our team of accredited appraisers for the purposes of insurance coverage and claims, charitable donations, estate planning and probate, equitable distribution and fair-market value. We started our art commentary blog site as a venue for colleagues and fellow art enthusiasts to share their experiences within the art community.