$20 Million Asked for Warhol "Wild One"

New York - Andy Warhol’s 1966 screen-printed canvas of leather-clad Marlon Brando on a motorcycle is expected to bring about $20 million at Christie’s in November.

Collectors of ArtKabinett social network will see lots of works by Warhol pass under the auction gavel, as the Christie's has assumed the entire inventory of the Warhol Foundation.

This piece however, titled “Marlon,” comes from the collection of Donald L. Bryant, a trustee of the Museum of Modern Art who bought it for $5 million at Christie’s in 2003.

The current estimate is “very much in line with where the market has gone for Warhol,” said Brett Gorvy, chairman and international head of postwar and contemporary art at Christie’s.

In May, Sotheby’s sold a Warhol Elvis Presley for $37 million. In 2008, Christie’s sold “Double Marlon,” a canvas larger than “Marlon” with two smaller Brando images, for $32.5 million.

For “Marlon,” Warhol used Brando’s publicity shot from the 1953 movie “The Wild One,” printing the image on unprimed, 41-by-46-inch canvas.

Four images of the same size exist, one of which is loaned to the Tate in London, according to Gorvy. "It’s the best of the four in terms of the image and condition,” he said. “Because of the way the ink seeps into the surface, the image registers extremely well.”

“Marlon” will be offered at Christie’s evening postwar and contemporary art sale on Nov. 14 in New York. It is guaranteed by a third party, who has pledged to buy it for an undisclosed minimum price.

Well-Exposed Piece

In addition to the upcoming auction, this work has been shopped around recently to various sources in hopes of achieving a strong sale.

It’s been seen recently in The Wall Street Journal during a photo exposé of Bryant's New York apartment, and on Gagosian’s stand at ArtBasel.

Christie’s previously sold a much larger double Marlon for $32m; Gagosian was said to be asking $40m during the recent ArtBasel fair. So the folks at Christie’s have set a premium estimate for this particular piece.

Bryant Lives with Art

Donald Bryant, age 67, systematically transformed his deluxe New York apartment into one of Manhattan's premier private exhibition spaces.

Mr. Bryant bought the duplex apartment in 2006 and renovated it through 2008. His goal was to turn it into his private museum.

Art exhibitions rotate, and the co-op acts as the home base from which he and his new wife throw parties for friends, curators, collectors and dealers.

It is modern and spare, with few decorative objects and personal photographs. The public rooms make up the lower floor; the private rooms plus 950-bottle wine cellar are above.

Richard Serra's striking "Out-of-Round VII," nearly seven-foot square, dominates his apartment's master bedroom. A Picasso oil of a nude woman, a Jackson Pollock drip painting and several Willem de Kooning oils share the 30-foot long modern living room.

Nearly every wall acts as a frame; a Joseph Beuys drawing hangs in a bathroom and several Robert Gober drawings overlook a rarely used treadmill in a small storage space.

Showcasing Art

Records show Mr. Bryant bought the apartment located on the 5th and 6th floors of the doorman-guarded limestone for $10 million in 2006, as his divorce to his prior wife was being finalized.

The building, located one block off of Central Park at 59 East Seventy-second Street, was designed by Rosario Candela, an Art Deco architect of the 1920s and 1930.

It made headlines when residents rebuffed former President Nixon's efforts to buy an apartment there in 1979.

Since Mr. Bryant bought his duplex, two other duplexes have sold; one several floors up for $15 million, in 2007, and the one directly beneath his, this spring, for $4 million. The proceeds from the one Warhol piece could purchase both!

After buying the unit Mr. Bryant began to gut the apartment to showcase art.

Some ceilings were lowered by several inches to install air-conditioning and to house museum-quality track-lighting.

A wall was erected to create a canvas for a large-scale work; a light gray shade of paint was carefully selected to complement the artwork, and most of the furniture, set off the walls to make visitors feel enveloped in art, is in shades of beige.

The downside: The exclusive building only allows construction in the summer, causing the timetable to stretch over two years. The renovation and redecoration cost about $4 million, a sum Mr. Bryant calls irrelevant.