Part of the original group of such images, it was created in the early sixties when he first became famous for his candid portrayals of celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Kennedy and Elizabeth Taylor.
Sotheby’s said this Self-Portrait (1963-64), created when he was 35, represents “the moment that Warhol stepped out from behind the camera and into the glare of its flashbulb”.
"Age of Instagram"
“In the age of Instagram, Warhol’s fabled prediction that ‘in the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes’ has never felt more prophetic,” said James Sevier, senior specialist in contemporary art at Sotheby's.
“This is a work of immense art historical importance that marks the watershed moment when Warhol joined the canon of the greatest self-portraitists.”
The portrait was painted from a strip of photographs taken in a New York dime store photo-booth.
The decision to use images from a booth were seen as innovative at the time and suited Warhol’s vision for a new type of art for the pop era. Sotheby's also highlights its art historical significance: notably Francis Bacon used photo-booth strips in a directly comparable manner to Warhol for his 1967 work, Four Studies for Self Portrait.
Warhol made this series of self-portraits at the behest of Detroit collector Florence Barron. Barron wanted her own portrait done but Ivan Karp, dealer at New York’s legendary Leo Castelli Gallery, managed to persuade both artist and patron that a self-portrait would be even more appropriate. The dealer, convinced that a self-portraiture series would propel Warhol to new heights, had been trying to persuade the artist for some time. He said at the time: “You know, people want to see you. Your looks are responsible for a certain part of your fame – they feed the imagination.”
The artwork has been in a private collection since 1980 and is being offered at auction 30 years after the artist’s death in 1987.