I'll Take the Marlon for $20 Million Please: Warhol Foundation Purging Its Collection

Andy Warhol once said "An artist is somebody who produces things people don't need to have." The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts (See Andy Warhol Foundation: Grants for Visual Arts) has decided that it no longer needs to have Warhol's art and is getting rid of its entire collection. Some pieces are slated for donation while the remainder will be auctioned off through Christie's Auction House. The collection includes more than 20,000 works with an expected take of more than $100 million.

The Warhol foundation is looking for change and no longer wishes to be the guardians of Warhol's collection (Read foundation president Joel Wachs' IP profile. Rather, the foundation would like to increase its grant giving abilities, adding to its $225 million endowment. Michael Straus, Chairman of the Warhol Foundation, was quoted as saying "We're converting art into money." Mr. Straus has a knack for stating the obvious, but the sell-off has many in the art world, especially the Mugrabi family, none too pleased.

The Mugrabis own over 800 Warhol pieces and reportedly offered to purchase the Warhol collection from the foundation over a year ago, when it first began hinting that it might sell. The Foundation declined the Mugrabi's offer to which Alberto responded, "It's ridiculous — they have a great product, and they're pushing it out into the market like cattle." But that statement is largely inaccurate. The foundation plans to sell the pieces in carefully planned stages so as not to dilute the value or the prices of the pieces. Mugrabi is behaving as though the foundation is holding a fire sale.

The Mugrabis ire is thinly veiled. If they can decline an offer by the Abu Dhabi royal family to purchase a collection of Mugrabi-owned Warhol pieces for "several hundred million dollars," it seems more like they're worried their collection will decline in value and have no consideration for the foundation, what it does, or what it's trying to do with the proceeds from the sale.

Mugrabis aside, since the foundation's inception it has been selling of pieces of its collection to support not only its grantmaking, but also its operating costs. Not having to store or insure artwork worth millions, along with the revenue stream generated from the sale of its benefactor's works, will simply allow The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts to do more, making an even bigger impact in the art world.