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Warhol's Marilyn Monroe portrait sells for $279m

A view of atmosphere during Christie's announcement that they will offer Andy Warhols Shot Sage Blue Marilyn painting of Marilyn Monroe at Christies, New York, NY, March 21, 2022. The work comes to Christies from the Thomas and Doris Ammann Foundation Zurich and all proceeds of the sale will benefit the foundation for its charities. (Photo by Anthony Behar/Sipa USA)

A view of Andy Warhol's Shot Sage Blue Marilyn painting of Marilyn Monroe (Photo by Anthony Behar/Sipa USA) 

Pop artist Andy Warhol's famed 1964 silk-screen portrait of Marilyn Monroe has sold for $US195 million ($A279 million), a record for a work by an American artist sold at auction.

Shot Sage Blue Marilyn is one in a series of portraits Warhol made of the actress following her death in 1962 and has since become one of pop art's best-known pieces.

Held in the collection of Swiss art dealers Thomas and Doris Ammann, it was sold by Christie's at an auction in New York on Monday. Pre-sale estimates had reached as high as $US200 million.

The painting sold for a hammer price of $US170 million. Added fees gave it a final price of $US195 million.

The sale broke the previous record for an American artwork at auction of $US110.5 million set in 2017 for a 1982 painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat.

"Shot Sage Blue Marilyn is the absolute pinnacle of American Pop," Alex Rotter, chairman of 20th and 21st century art at Christie's, said in a statement announcing the auction.

"The painting transcends the genre of portraiture, superseding 20th century art and culture."

The painting is built on a promotional photo of Monroe from the 1953 film Niagara, screened with bright colors over her eyes, hair and lips.

Its title refers to an incident in which a woman shot at a stack of four Marilyn portraits in Warhol's studio with a pistol, although Shot Sage Blue Marilyn was not struck by a bullet.

Monroe was one of Hollywood's best-known stars before her death of an overdose at her home in Los Angeles on August 4, 1962.

Warhol died in 1987.

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