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HOW TO FIX AN $82 MILLION ACCIDENT
June 07, 2016  -  KQED Arts  /  Elvis Express Radio
Stuff just happens, sometimes, even to an Andy Warhol silkscreen worth an estimated $82 million, and under constant surveillance.

According to KRON 4, a visitor to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) reportedly tripped last week and bumped into “Triple Elvis” causing minor damage to the
iconic work. The piece is part of the Fisher Collection, the backbone art collection of the recently reopened museum. The TV station says the painting was removed from the gallery,
and taken to the museum’s conservation studio for evaluation.

The large silkscreen, in ink and silver paint on a linen canvas from 1963, shows three identical overlapping images of Elvis Presley dressed as a cowboy, his pistol out of the holster
and pointing at the viewer, in a scene from Flaming Star, a Hollywood western. The work sold at a Christie’s auction in 2014 for $81.9 million.

Susan Klein, director of marketing at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, says she grimaced in sympathy when she read about the incident. She says the best tools for
preventing such accidents are metering tickets and other techniques that keep galleries from getting too crowded. “So that people don’t accidentally trip over things or bump into
each other or the art,” Klein says.

Sy Sajid, an art restorer in San Francisco who calls his business SYSPHERE Conservation, once fixed a  silkscreen on paper of  Mick Jagger by Warhol for a private owner. “The
restoration work would involve correcting and over-painting the damaged areas in silkscreen inks,” Sajid says of the likely process involved in restoring the damage done to “Triple
Elvis.” Sajid says it might also be possible to over-paint a simple scuff mark with a brush. “Or perhaps you create a silkscreen just for that area and then silkscreen it just the way it
was,” Sajid says.

SFMOMA is keeping quiet about the incident. The museum’s communications director, Jill Lynch, replied to a request for comment with this email: “We’re not doing interviews on this
matter.”

WARHOL AND ELVIS
Elvis Presley was one of Warhol’s earliest subjects, one in which he revisited several times throughout his career. In 1963, Warhol developed a twenty two piece series called Elvis
for a solo show at The Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles, CA. He had been gaining momentum in his career after his Campbell’s Soup Cans show at the same gallery the year before.

The image used was one taken from a publicity still from the 1960’s film Flaming Star. In this photo, Elvis Presley is dressed as a cowboy with gun drawn, rather than the usual
guitar in hand, revealing Warhol’s intent to depict Elvis as an actor, rather than to portray him as a musician.