As the head of the International Art department, I first saw the set of four Queen Elizabeth II’s by Andy Warhol unwrapped and hung side by side in Montreal as we set up for our preview in April. They commanded the room. They were all framed similarly, each featuring the same image of Queen Elizabeth II but realized with different lines and bold blocks of bright colours.
When they arrived at our Toronto galleries after our preview in Montreal, we decided to install them as they appear in the catalogue raisonné. Again, hung on a main wall, they drew the eye of every visitor as they entered our galleries. After all, the works had captured the public’s imagination as soon as the press release was sent out, where we revealed what would be offered in our first live session of International art.
When dealing with an artist such as Warhol, one of the most celebrated figures in modern art, and this iconic portrait of the Queen, we expected to receive a frenzy of inquiries, further image requests and multiple condition report requests. We did, and then some. Collectors’ interest in these works, both in Canada and abroad, never lagged as we led up to the evening of our Spring Live Auction on June 8th.
With bidders in place in the room, on the phone and online, the bidding started slowly before gradually picking up the pace. We are pleased to report that the set of four Queen’s realized a price of $936,000 (including buyer’s premium).
Cowley Abbott is delighted to donate the proceeds to the Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG-Qaumajuq) as they build an endowment fund to support more diverse representation in the permanent collection, beginning with contemporary Indigenous art.
The next day, the successful bidder on the Warhol’s contacted me. I had discussed the works with him in the early stages, following the press release and the catalogue becoming available. He was delighted with the sale’s result and is pleased to be revealed as the successful bidder. Ron Rivlin is the founder of the Revolver Gallery in West Hollywood, California, and the author of WARHOL LIVES: 2022 Print Market Report.
He had this to say about his purchase: “As an art collector, and as a Canadian, I am happy to have contributed to Winnipeg Art Gallery with their sale of the Warhol’s. These prints will make a fantastic addition to our collection, and it is so exciting for me to see the art market continue to grow in Canada.”