A screen used to make one of Andy Warhol’s most famous prints was stolen from a local art collection in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood. The FBI is investigating an art heist that occurred between April 27th and 29th. The theft was of eighteen works by various artists, one of which was the silk screen used to make Andy Warhol’s famous Flowers print series. The silk screen itself was a studio tool that has disintegrated so much over the years that it cannot be reused and is now a piece of memorabilia, worth only about $2000 – $3000, but the prints that Warhol made from it can be worth anywhere from $30,000 – $50,000, depending on their condition. As a contrast, Andy Warhol Electric chair prints go for $15,000 – $40,000 each, and a full set of Andy Warhol Mao prints recently went for $2.8 million at auction. Andy Warhol Marilyn prints can sell for as much as $300,000 each.
Andy Warhol’s Flowers prints were create in 1970 after a series of paintings in 1964, and were about the dark, urban, side of the flower power generation. If you study the paintings and the prints, there is a lot of dark grass, which was used to depict the dark side of the whole movement. Warhol’s assistant, Ronnie Cutrone, thought the series was about life and death. The photo that was the source material for the Andy Warhol prints was actually taken by Patricia Caulfield and appeared in the June 1964 issue of Modern Photography. Caulfield later sued Andy for the use of the photo. He offered her two sets of Flowers portfolios, which she declined and a cash settlement was arranged. After the incident, Warhol started receiving permission to use publicity and media photographs for his prints.
The FBI is offering a reward for information on the hijacked collection.