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Warhol self-portrait could fetch $40M

A 1986 self-portrait by Andy Warhol that was among the last of his paintings to be exhibited while he was alive is heading for the auction block, where it is estimated to sell for up to $40 million.

The red-on-black "Self-Portrait" is scheduled to be sold at Christie's postwar and contemporary art sale on May 11, the auction house announced Wednesday. The owner is a private American collector who purchased it in 1996 and wished to remain anonymous.

The piece, measuring 9 feet per side, is considered a landmark work by the American pop artist. Created toward the end of his life, it shows him looking directly at the viewer, his hair standing straight up.

"With his unique ability to fuse painting and photograph into an unforgettably iconic image, Warhol condensed all the recent themes of his art in this magnificent self-portrait into a single splash of color set on an inky black background," said Amy Cappellazzo, Christie's expert on contemporary and postwar art.

The acrylic and silk-screen on canvas was one of two 9-foot red-on-black self-portraits that were first exhibited in London in 1986, at the Anthony d'Offay Gallery, just six months before Warhol's death. The other one is at New York's Guggenheim Museum, donated by Ann and Anthony d'Offay in 1992.

The painting is among seven self-portraits that Warhol painted in 1986. The rest are in museums or in foundations. A purple "Self-Portrait" was purchased last year for $32.5 million.

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