Marilyn Monroe's lips get top bid in Andy Warhol online auction

Marilyn Monroe, one of America’s most beloved pop cultural icons, and New Coke, one of its most despised, commanded the biggest bids in the first in a series of online Christie’s auctions of Andy Warhol artworks that ended Tuesday.

The winning bids totaled $1.84 million for 124 auction lots. It was the second round of all-Warhol sales in a multi-year effort by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts to liquidate its holdings to boost its grantmaking endowment. Winning bidders also must pay a 25% buyer's premium.

The first sale, a regular auction in November at Christie's in New York City, reaped $17 million.

QUIZ | At the auction house: Can you guess the price?

“I Love Your Kiss Forever Forever,” a 1964 lithograph on two sheets of paper showing five different-colored pairs of Monroe’s lips, attracted 50 bids in the online auction and fetched $90,000 -- 16 times higher than the pre-sale top estimate of $5,000.

“New Coke,”  a colored screen print on two sheets of paper dated around 1985, the year Coca Cola changed its soda’s formula to the general distaste of the guzzling public, went for $75,000, more than doubling the $35,000 top estimate.

The auction's bestselling celebrity image was Warhol’s own: He appeared in a dozen pieces (11 of them photographs) that collectively brought in $116,200, including $38,000 for a T-shirt with his fright-wigged visage.

PHOTOS: Arts and culture in pictures by The Times

Only one of the show’s 125 auction lots failed to attract any bids: “Madonna and Child,” a 1981 graphite drawing on paper that showed a baby suckling its mother’s breast, had been expected to sell for $30,000 to $40,000. 

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