Hangin' in the Hamptons

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

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  It was withdrawn from one sale schedule, made a side trip to a London exhibit and has had good exposure on New York metro area media.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.

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