If you've got the cash and are considering buying an Andy Warhol original, there's one thing the piece will need beyond anything else: authenticity from the Andy Warhol Foundation. The Foundation invites pieces to be submitted three times a year to establish whether it is an authentic Warhol, or, what is the nice word to say about a non-authentic piece ... er, fake. More details on the service can be found by clicking here.
I know that here in the UK, recently, there has been negative publicity about the Foundation's authentication procedure. This has stemmed from the Alan Yentob programme for the BBC, in which he follows one disgruntled Warhol collector who cannot believe that the Foundation rejected his prized Warhol piece. Er, that's it. Oh and a few old guys who agreed with the youngish collector guy but they may or may not have experimented with drug use in the 60s as their speech and thoughts were kind of hazy and they were so old now that if one of them was caught smuggling anything it would be Werther's Originals up his arse.
I totally disagree with the findings of this programme and side with the Foundation 100%. For any major artist, there has to be some kind of authenication procedure. Without it, there is chaos. Looking at it objectively, for a buyer you have to take the Foundation's word as gospel. It's as simple as that. If it is an expensive purchase then a buyer should expect the seller to have had it authenticated by the Foundation. If they haven't then ask the why they haven't. In fact, if they haven't then I would suggest that you shouldn't purchase the piece.
For cheaper purchases, such as signed posters, still be vigilant. Don't take a seller at face value. Work on the premise that everything is fake unless proved otherwise. So don't be afraid to ask an auction house how and why they have concluded that a Warhol signature is a Warhol signature. Ask for documented proof. Don't take a seller's story when he says, I don't know, that he met Warhol in the 60s or 70s and he signed a 1000 items in an afternoon because he was a top geezer. Press him on his story and before buying do some of your own detective work and find out whether Warhol was even in the same city as the date from the seller. Question, question, question.
The purpose of this price guide is not to authenticate works. I just don't have the time to reply to e-mails enquiring about authentication or commenting on individual works.
This short guide should be used for what it was set up to be: a guide to the prices you can expect to pay at auction. If you buy from a gallery then expect to pay up to 5 times the amount listed here. I heartily recommend Andy Warhol Prints: A Catalogue Raisonne 1962-1987 book for any Warhol collector young or old as it contains 1,700 illustrations and full documentation, presents the artist's complete graphic production, from his first unique works on paper in 1962 through his final published portfolio in 1987, including trial proof prints and unpublished prints.