The sale last fall of an Andy Warhol silkscreen for a record $43 million reminded of the power of brands in his art. What are the values of many of the brands that Andy Warhol painted, and could we find a case of brand that he painted that was valued less than the actual sale price for an individual painting? Are there cases where the representations of the brands that Andy Warhol used are more valuable than the actual brands themselves? That’s a true post-modern notion.
The highest price for a Warhol is Green Car Crash, at $70 million. That’s considerably more than a minor brand would sell for, but Warhol usually painted the major brands, mostly.
Warhol, of course, knew and loved American brand names as a representation of American culture, and featured them in that seminal show, The American Supermarket.
Warhol’s most favorite brands, including Campbell’s, have never been for sale, and the company has a market cap in the billions. Ditto with Coca-Cola, which figured in another work. He picked well.
One brand that might fit is Brillo. Church & Dwight purchased a portfolio of brands that included Brillo for $30 million from Dial. This brand portfolio included Parsons Ammonia, Bo-Peep Ammonia and Cameo Metal Polish, though we guess Brillo was the prize. Brillo boxes have sold for considerably less, and many had questionable provenance. Perhaps there are others out there.
A related thought popped up, which related to Warhol’s curatorial eye. Namely, what were the brands associated with Warhol and how are they doing? Warhol obviously had an eye for what was valuable brand-wise, in culture, and a list of those brands might be instructive.
Brands Recommended or Associated with Andy Warhol
- Halston: He was, of course a friend of Warhol. “He is the first All-American fashion designer. He never copies Paris. He just gives the American woman what she wants.” Yves St. Laurent was also part of the Warhol scene.
- Ultrasuede: Warhol cites it as a favorite of Halston.
- Other brands mentioned include Mobil and Armstrong Tire
- Levi’s. Warhol wore 501s.
- Various grocery brands including Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, Mott’s, Hunt’s Tomato Catsup, Heinz Tomato Ketchup
- Vidal Sassoon. He did an ad for them.
- Braniff: It was the airline that had exteriors by artists like Calder and Halston.
- Amtrak’s Metroliner: Warhol would ride it to D.C.
- McDonald’s: In America, Warhol wrote that if the “guests are really chic we send Robyn the receptionist across the street to McDonald’s for Big Macs and Filet-o-Fishes.
- Holiday Inn: Warhol preferred to stay in Holiday Inns, particularly the Holiday Inn Mid-Town in Richmond.
- An image from the book Candies from a candy stand that include Beechies, Care-free gum, Goldenberg’s Chews, $100,000 bar, Whoppers, Pom Poms, Dots and Charleston Chews,
- Warhol mentions a number of soft drinks that you can choose from as Americans. There are all the usual brands, and then there are forgotten brands including Like, C&C Cola and Orelia.
- Tab: Warhol’s favorite drink was Tab. He writes: “Nancy Reagan drinks tab. Gloria Vanderbilt drinks Tab, Jackie Onassis drinks Tab, Katharine Hepburn drinks Tab, and just think, you can drink Tab too. Tab is Tab and no matter how rich you are, you can’t get a better one than the one the homesless womoan ont eh corner is drinking. All the Tabs are just hte same. And all the Tabs are good.”
- Breck: Warhol mentions seeing Jayne Mansfield buying Breck hairspray in a pharmacy.
- Bergdorf Goodman: A shot of an exterior of the store.
- Polaroid: Warhol carried an SX-70 camera.
- Mr. Peanut: A photo of two Mr. Peanut was in America, photographed in Plains, Georgia.
- Yves St. Laurent.
- Warhol would often go shopping at May’s, which was on Union Square.
- Pan Am: Glenn O’ Brien once asked Warhol what his favorite airline was. It was Pan Am, though when he asked, it was his favorite, as it had stopped flying overseas. It is now purely a licensing play.
- Warhol traded paintings for appliances at Best Products, a now shuttered discounter based in Richmond. Many of the paintings are in the Sydney and Frances Lewis collections of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, home of the BEST Cafe.