The silkscreen image known as “Shot Sage Blue Marilyn," a close-up of Monroe with her hair in yellow, her eyeshadow blue and her lips red, is slated to be part of a week of sales in May, Christie's said Monday.
If it meets the sale estimate, the 1964 image will be the most expensive 20th-century artwork to be auctioned, Christie's said.
"When a painting like this comes to auction, it changes the market not only for Warhol, but it changes the market itself," said Alex Rotter, Chairman of Christie's 20th and 21st Century Art.
Warhol created more than one image of Monroe; this particular one has been exhibited in museums around the world.
"This is a significant moment because art market historically, it's a significant moment when Marilyn comes up," Rotter said. "And in my opinion -- and this is art history is personal to a certain extent -- in my opinion, these paintings and this particular painting symbolizes everything that is relevant for us in the 20th century, everything that is relevant for Warhol. Again, as I said, the beauty, also the tragedy that comes with it, it's all part of it and it's all in her. And we all feel it."
The proceeds of the sale would go to the Thomas and Doris Ammann Foundation Zurich, which is putting the painting up for auction. The foundation aims to help children with health care and educational programs.
Travis Pittman contributed to this report.