When Andy Warhol unexpectedly died on February 22, 1987, from complications related to gallbladder surgery, it set into motion the requirements of his will, as well as a number of legal conflicts among those in Warhol's inner circle. The will dictated that Warhol's entire estate (aside from a few moderate gifts to his brothers) would endow a foundation, according to Artlyst. The many thousands of items in Warhol's possession took Sotheby's nine days to auction, but by the end, more than $20 million was raised for the establishment of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.
The foundation had a difficult start with legal battles involving Warhol's executor, employees of Warhol's studio ("The Factory"), and his brothers, The Washington Post reported at the time. And, despite mismanagement of the foundation, as The New York Times reported, it was still able to found the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh to house nearly 10,000 works of art by Warhol.
Even though Warhol created and collected art worth hundreds of millions of dollars that would continue to fund others well into the future, he always remembered his past. "Certainly, he was a social climber," Anthony E. Grudin, author of Warhol's Working Class: Pop Art and Egalitarianism, told CNN. "But when he talked about his background, he was pretty clear ... that his father was a working man who died from the hardship of his job, and that he was raised in poverty and that his mother sold tin-canned artworks door-to-door."