Warhol's Liz Taylor Portrait May Fetch $30M

Painting once owned by Hugh Grant goes under hammer in May

By Greg Wilson
|  Thursday, Mar 24, 2011  |  Updated 10:45 AM PDT
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Andy Warhol's 1963 portrait of Elizabeth Taylor will be auctioned in May, when it could fetch as much as $30 million.

The painting was once owned by actor Hugh Grant, who bought it on a drunken whim and later flipped it for a $20-million profit.

"Liz #5" goes under the hammer May 12, according to auctioneers Phillips de Pury, who called the painting "a dazzling tribute to Elizabeth Taylor." The violet-eyed sex symbol was just 31 wen Warhol painted the portrait, one of 12 he painted of her. Taylor died on Wednesday aged 79.

"Liz #5 is a pristine gem," said Michael McGinnis, head of contemporary art at Phillips de Pury. "It is Warhol at his very best with a perfect screen, glowing colors, and impeccable provenance. She is classic yet every bit as cutting edge as she was when Warhol painted her nearly 50 years ago."

The art company said the portrait showed Warhol at his best, saying it "embodies the most important themes of Warhol's oeuvre including celebrity, wealth, scandal, sex, death and Hollywood."

Grant was hailed as an art connoisseur for buying the painting for $3.6 million from a Sotheby's auction in 2001, but later told the Daily Mail he was just on a two-day drinking spree when he saw the painting and he decided to have his assistant bid on it.

"And to my horror, she did, and even worse, got it," Grant said.

Grant sold the painting in 2007, six years later, for $23.7 million.

The adventure started with a drunken dinner with his father, Grant said, after which the two decided on a whim to jet over to New York on a Concorde flight to visit Grant's brother, Jamie, in New York.

"I'd been having a drunken dinner with my father the night before, and I said, "We ought to go see my brother Jamie. You know, the Concorde's amazing," Grant said. "'And he said, "I hear it is.'' So I bought him a Concorde ticket and we went. We had lunch, drank a lot of beer."

Selected Reading: Reuters, Daily Mail,

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