A previously unknown silkscreen believed to be printed by Andy Warhol will go up for auction on Monday at Col. Kirk’s Auction Gallery in Columbia County.
The piece, entitled “Of Thee I Sing—Nico,” isn’t signed by the pop art icon, but auction gallery General Manager Josh Williams said the silkscreen can be identified as an original Warhol because of the unique paper it was printed on.
“It was done for Nico,” Williams said. “Nico was a nickname given to Warhol’s lifelong best friend. The piece is unsigned, but it’s on Andy Warhol’s custom made woven paper, so we know that it’s his.”
Nico is the late Christa Paffgen, a German model who worked for companies like “Vogue” and “Coco Chanel” before moving to the United States at 17. She died in a cycling accident in 1988.
Tom Sokolowski, former director for the Andy Warhol Museum, has his doubts about the authenticity of the silkscreen.
“It has a quasi-style of the 1950s with the subject matter of the '60s done on paper which is his policy only later in the late, late 60s and 70s,” he said. “Nothing seems to be in order.”
Sokolowski offers a simile.
“You could say it’s like an early American pair of shoes with a Victorian dress with a punk hat,” he said.
The auction gallery admits the “authentication of such works has become impossible” and the piece’s “history is a mystery.”
The auction gallery believes the work was purchased from a New York City gallery sometime in the late 1960s or early 1970s by a Boston woman. According to Williams, the artwork came to the Millville gallery two years ago after the silkscreen’s owner had bad selling experiences at New York City auction houses.
“The wife would travel around New York City to different galleries and purchase art and purchase sculptures,” Williams said. “She’s got so much and this is one piece that we’re allowed to sell for her.”
Williams said it’s difficult to say how much the silkscreen will fetch, but he estimates anywhere between $20,000 and $2 million.