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Kings of Bling at Virginia Museum


As a general rule, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts won't discuss the monetary value of its collection. But the recent sale of Andy Warhol's "Triple Elvis" offers a fairly hefty clue about what the commonwealth's most valuable piece might be.

In the early '60s, Warhol made multiple prints of Elvis Presley, each featuring variations of a silkscreened image of the King in cowboy garb, holding a gun.

The Virginia Museum holds one "Triple Elvis." The New York auction house Christie's sold another last week. It fetched $82 million, the most of any piece sold in an auction that otherwise was filled with major works by prominent artists.

The museum's spokeswoman, Suzanne Hall, declines to comment on the Christie's sale. But John B. Ravenal, the museum's departing curator for modern and contemporary art, confirmed in a recent interview that VMFA's painting is comparable to the one sold at auction.

The painting is on loan from the Virginia Museum to the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.