Andy Warhol ‘Car Crash’ painting nets US$85.4 million at auction


A monumental silkscreen painting, part of one of Andy Warhol’s most pivotal series, sold for $84.5 million at Sotheby’s Wednesday, more than 131 times more than the last time it appeared at auction nearly four decades ago.

A security guard stands next to Andy Warhol’s “White Disaster [White Car Crash 19 Times]” during a press preview for Sotheby’s November auctions of Modern & Contemporary art in New York City on November 4, 2022. | Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

Big Number

US$195 million. That’s the record for the most expensive work by Warhol to ever sell at auction, a silkscreen portrait of Marilyn Monroe called “Shot Sage Blue Marilyn” that megadealer Larry Gagosian purchased at Christie’s in May. It’s still unclear if Gagosian bought the painting for one of his billionaire clients. The Monroe portrait was part of an auction of the personal collection of Swiss art dealer Thomas Ammann and his sister Doris. Thomas was a friend of Warhol’s who also sold “White Disaster (White Car Crash 19 Times)” in 1996 to the current seller, Galperin told Forbes.

“White Disaster (White Car Crash 19 Times)” is directly related to Warhol’s “Silver Car Crash 2 (Double disaster),” a piece from the same series that sold for $105.4 million at Sotheby’s in 2013 and until May was the most valuable Warhol work to ever sell at auction. Both works were created in 1963 and use repeated prints of the same image of a car crash.

The painting is the latest work to fetch a sky-high price this auction season. Last week, the art accumulated by late billionaire Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen during his lifetime sold for $1.6 billion, becoming the most expensive art collection ever sold at auction and the first to pass the $1 billion threshold. In that sale alone, five paintings sold for nine-figure sums. On Tuesday evening, a painting by Piet Mondrian sold for US$51 million.

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Further Reading

Andy Warhol ‘Car Crash’ Painting Returns To Auction After 35 Years—And Could Net $80 Million (Forbes)