"The Birth of Cool" is hot.
The self-portrait of pop artist Andy Warhol is expected to draw a minimum of $20 million to $30 million when it is auctioned May 11 by Christie’s International in New York.
The painting, which cost Detroit collector Florence Barron $1,600 in 1963, was originally discussed as a portrait of her, said Brett Gorvy, international co-head of post war art and contemporary art at Christie’s.
However, he told CNBC Monday, when Barron met Warhol she told him, “Nobody knows me...They want to see you.”
The painting is the first to be sold from the Barron collection.
"He’s truly a global artist," Gorvy said. The increasing interest in acquiring Warhol and other artists, particularly by collectors in the Middle East and the former Soviet Union, is "very much about hard assets" at a time of economic uncertainty.
"That's why this market has held up amazingly well since 2008, because it's really seen as one of the greatest assets, and you can love it."