**EDITOR’S NOTE: This story
originally published on Nov. 1, 2013, and was updated November 13 with news from the
In the early-1960s, a glass
contour bottle of Coca-Cola sold for 10 cents. Last night, Andy Warhol’s
1962 painting of the iconic package sold for more than $57 million at a Christie’s auction in New York.
The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville,
Ark., purchased the painting, which is now on display in the museum’s
Twentieth-Century Art Gallery.
“Coca-Cola (3)” – which previously resided within the same private collection for almost two decades and featured
prominently in Warhol exhibitions around the world – is considered a founding
painting of the Pop Art movement, which celebrated popular culture and
consumerism in post-World War II America.
“Warhol created one of the most
iconic images, both for his own body of work but also for the 20th Century,”
said Brett Gorvy, chairman and international head of post-war and contemporary
art at Christie’s. “He concentrated on the Coca-Cola bottle because it was, and
still is, one of the most popular and recognizable images in the world. He
loved art which was fully democratic.”
Warhol himself once wrote, “What’s
grand about this country is that America started the tradition where the
richest consumers buy essentially the same thing as the poorest... you can know
that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and, just think, you
can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke, and no amount of money can get you a
While Coca-Cola has no formal
association with the large, black-and-white portrait on canvas, the high-profile
auction demonstrates the brand’s universal, timeless appeal and its status as a
constant fixture in the pop culture lexicon.
“The genius of Andy Warhol is
that he took this ubiquitous shape known to everybody in the world and turned
it into art,” said Ted Ryan, director of heritage communications, The Coca-Cola
Company. “I'm a huge Warhol fan, and this painting is one of my favorites of
all time. The beauty, the simplicity… this is pure, hand-painted perfection of
the world's best-known package.”
Warhol was not the first major
artist to use Coca-Cola iconography as a subject; Salvador Dali and Marisol
Escobar were inspired by the contour bottle, too. Other artists associated with
the brand include noted American illustrator Norman Rockwell, who created
several ads for Coca-Cola the 1920s and ‘30s, and Haddon Sundblom, who created
the modern-day image of Santa Claus for a 1931 Coca-Cola campaign.
In 2008, Warhol’s “Eight
Elvises” sold in a private sale for $100
million, a record for his work. Another piece by the Pop Art pioneer
featuring the iconic Coke bottle – “Coca-Cola (4)” – went for $35.36 million at
a 2010 auction.