Art e-Facts 58


After his death on the 22nd of February 1987 Andy Warhol‘s estate was decided by the courts to be worth, conservatively, over half a billion dollars: $509,979,278.00. The Warhol Foundation contested this figure in court and it was eventually reduced to $228 million. It was to the Foundation’s advantage to have a lower evaluation of Warhol’s paintings because it meant they would have to pay less in legal fees to the attorney for the estate who was on a percentage of 2.5% of the value of the estate. Also, The Foundation was legally obligated to award 5 percent of its assets for charitable grants and a lower valuation meant that they would have to pay out less money.

In order to back up their legal challenge for a lesser evaluation, the Foundation argued in court that Warhol was not as great an artist as some independent experts believed him to be. Art dealer Andre Emmerich testified for the Foundation that Warhol’s work was likely to fade into obscurity because the subjects of his paintings (Marilyn Monroe, Elvis etc…) would eventually be forgotten. The Foundation paid Emmerich $4,000 a day to testify plus $3,500 for preparatory work.