Warhol’s world

Marking what would have been Andy Warhol’s 89th birthday, a new film traces the provenance of one of the artist’s iconic Brillo boxes

When Andy Warhol debuted his Brillo boxes in 1964, arguably the most recognisable examples of supermarket shipping carton replicas that he made, he probably would not have expected them to be as prized as they are today. The most recent value of one such specimen, following an international bidding war in 2010, reached an epic $3,050,5000 – a far cry from the $1,000 that Martin and Rita Skyler paid when they bought the very same piece back in 1969.

The Skylers and that box are the subjects of a new documentary that debuts on HBO on 7 August, coinciding with what would have been Warhol’s 89th birthday. Directed by Martin and Rita’s daughter Lisanne Skyler and featuring interviews with some of the contemporary art world’s most prominent figures, Brillo Box (3¢ Off) blends a relatable family narrative with facets of pop art history as it traces the journey of the sculpture, which the Skylers’ persuaded Warhol to sign – something that he did not practice at the time. The film culminates with footage of the record-breaking auction at Christie’s, ultimately presenting commentary on the ephemeral nature of art and how its value is determined today.

Trailer courtesy of HBO Documentary Films. Brillo Box (3¢ Off) airs 7 August, exclusively on HBO