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Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

Andy Warhol Self-Portrait for Sotheby’s Auction

A Self-Portrait by Andy Warhol that was given by the artist to a young receptionist at The Factory in 1967 will be offered by Sotheby’s on the evening of November 11, 2009 in a sale of Contemporary Art.

A high school assignment to write an article for a student newspaper led seventeen year-old Brooklyn resident Cathy Naso to the Leo Castelli Gallery and eventually to Warhol’s Factory in midtown Manhattan where she was offered a part-time receptionist job. After approximately two years at The Factory and working on the artist’s book “a, A Novel”, Warhol presented her with this Self-Portrait, inscribing it to her with a heart – ‘to Cathy ? 2 years late’. After displaying the canvas for a brief period, Ms. Naso stored it in a closet, where it remained until earlier this year. Having never been stretched and kept sealed behind glass, the painting appears at auction in pristine condition and carries an estimate of $1/1.5 million.

It was the spring of 1965 and Cathy Naso was in her senior year at the High School of Art & Design studying painting and advertising design. ‘Pop Art’ was at its height and for a French class assignment, Cathy and a friend decided to write an article about Andy Warhol for the French American Student Newspaper. Encouraged by their teachers to frequent Manhattan’s many galleries, the two girlsheaded to the Leo Castelli Gallery to request an interview with Warhol. Gallery Director Ivan Karp was there when they arrived and, perhaps inspired by their enthusiasm, he immediately called over to Warhol and arranged for the pair to go over to the Factory on 47th street. Famously shy when it came to being interviewed, Warhol never actually spoke to them for the article, but he did hire them on the spot as part-time receptionists.

Over the next two years, Ms. Naso would go to The Factory several times a week. By this time, Warhol was the center of the art world but he would still come to The Factory every afternoon and often spent time chatting with the young receptionist. Her recollections of him are as a kind and caring person, protective of her and her friends. She was able to witness the artist working on his iconic series of self portraits from 1965 and Warhol even asked her for advice on his color selection. In the end, the painting he presented to her contained the colors she told him she liked.

The “Self Portrait” is an iconic image from a period when Warhol was at the height of his early fame, and it is all the more extraordinary as it tells the story of the generosity of the artist towards a young art student.