This story can only be told now. I was afraid to tell it earlier. Afraid that someone might rip us off if they knew what we had.
My brother was going to school at Hunter College in Manhattan and one of the people in his class worked at the Ronald Feldman Gallery. Feldman represented Andy Warhol and they were selling editions of his upcoming prints, a series of ten silkscreens called “Myths,” at a reduced rate. Reduced because Warhol had not done them yet. They were just an idea.
The cost was 6,000 dollars, a lot of money in 1979. Peggi and I took out a loan for 1800 so we owned three tenths. My brother bought half for 3000 and our friends, Kim and Dave in San Francisco, bought the remaining two tenths. We all informally agreed not to own specific prints but respective shares of each and we agreed not to sell individual prints but keep the series of ten intact. Our ten prints were each numbered 135 of 200.
What would “Myths” look like? We couldn’t imagine. Turns out they were all iconic characters from Warhol’s youth. Greta Garbo as Mata Hari, Dracula, Uncle Sam, the Wicked Witch, Mammy, Howdy Doody, Dracula, Mickey Mouse, Santa Claus and an Andy Warhol self portrait as The Shadow. They are each 38 inches by 38 inches on Lenox Museum Board, some with eight colors, rich solid colors and all but one with a pull of glue dusted with diamond dust, each signed in pencil.
We put two on our wall and kept the other eight in a box behind the piano in our house in the city. My uncle worked for Allstate and he arranged to insure them with a rider. But when he retired we were never quite sure if they were really covered. My brother eventually moved out of his Manhattan apartment and he hung five in his house in New Jersey. We never did figure out how to get any out to California.
The prints, like all of Warhol’s work, have continued to increase in value. You would think pop art would have bottomed out by now. I certainly hope it does someday. I would like to see it crushed by something more expressive. But our decision had nothing to do with market timing. My brother got a new estimate from Ronald Feldman and tried to get to the bottom of his insurance policy. His agent wouldn’t even return his call. It was time to sell.
We worked with Roz Goldman in Rochester, the former president of the Appraisers Association of America. She arranged to bring them to auction at Christie’s and we drove our prints down to New York. The last time a complete (but slightly damaged) set of Myths came to auction was in 2014. Our auction is April 15 and we plan to be in the house.