Hangin' in the Hamptons

Celebrities, socialites and stuff for the everyman from the South Fork

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Shhh! Secrecy surrounds the 'Thriller' deal

We know it sold, for "millions." Beyond that, what's going on with the winning bid for a Michael Jackson portrait by Andy Warhol is all very hush, hush. (Not an unusual state of affairs in the high-rolling world of art.) 

According to the Vered Gallery in East Hampton, Warhol’s 1984 portrait, Michael Jackson (Green) sold after some brisk last-minute bidding.

Warhol, never one to hide from a photo op,  would have approved of the  hubbub leading up to the sale.  It was withdrawn from one sale schedule, made a side trip to a London exhibit and has had good exposure on New York metro area media.

However, Warhol, ever the shrewd investor, would probably have approved of the aftermath --  the secrecy that surrounded the deal.

The winning bidder requested anonimity and the price of the 30-inch-by-26-inch painting from Jackson’s “Thriller” days was not disclosed. Janet Lehr, the gallery’s co-owner, said that the final bid price was “in the range of the millions,” adding that the auction was “quite successful.”

The seller has been described as a private New York collector who had the good fortune to buy the portrait in May at Sotheby’s for $278,000. Jackson died at age 50 on June 25.

“We respect the privacy of our buyers and sellers,” said Ruth Vered, founder and co-owner of the gallery, which conducted the auction online and by telephone. Bidding closed at 8 p.m. Tuesday.

“In my opinion,” Lehr said, “the winning bidder got it for a steal. Mixing in the collectible element — that it’s Michael Jackson — means it will have phenomenal dollar appreciation in the future.”

The portrait, in synthetic polymer paint and silkscreen inks, depicts a smiling King of Pop in a red jacket. The highest price paid for a Warhol portrait was $28 million for “Lemon Marilyn,” a portrait of Marilyn Monroe (one of many), sold by Christie’s in 2007.