Andy Warhol’s 12-foot Car Crash painting could fetch $80 million at Sotheby’s | Auctions News | THE VALUE


Andy Warhol’s White Disaster (White Car Crash 19 times) from his famous death and disasters series will headline Sotheby’s New York Contemporary Evening Sale on November 16th.

Measuring 367.7 x 210.5 cm, the monumental artwork is one of Warhol’s largest Car Crash paintings and is expected to fetch over $80 million.

The last time a death and disasters Painting appeared at auction was in 2013, when Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster) set the then-artist’s record at $105.4 million. At the beginning of May this year, the record was renewed Shot Sage Blue Marilynwhich fetched $195 million, a new record high for the pop master, and the second most expensive painting ever sold at auction.

Lot 114 | Andy Warhol | White Catastrophe [White Car Crash 19 Times]Screen printing ink and graphite on primed canvas

Created in 1963
367.7 x 210.5 cm
Origin (changed by value):

  • Stable Gallery, New York
  • Henry Frederick
  • Christie’s New York, May 5, 1987, lot 82 (sold: $660,000)
  • Thomas Ammann Fine Art AG, Zurich (acquired from the above sale)
  • Acquired there in 1996 by the current owner

Estimate on request, over $80 million

In June 1962, Andy Warhol was having lunch with his friend Henry Geldzahlener at one of his favorite places. Back then, Warhol was an aspiring pop artist working on images of Coca-Cola bottles and Campbell’s soup cans, and his young curator friend had some advice for him: “It’s enough life, it’s time for a little death.”

What Geldzahler might not have known at the time was that his words would inspire the pop master to produce some of the most impactful work of the century.

That same year, when Warhol saw a large image of a plane crash in the headlines, the artist began what later became known as the death and disaster Series, which is a group of approximately 70 artworks themed on atomic bombs, car accidents, electric chairs and other tragedies portrayed in the media as highly commonplace.

In exploring the weighty subject of life and death, the artist drew on source material from newspapers and police photo archives, using screen printing as a means of mechanically repeating these sensational images on large canvases. “If you keep seeing a horrific image, it doesn’t really have any effect,” he later remarked.

Andy Warhol’s death and disasters Series began in 1962

The current lot was exhibited in his 1989 retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York

In the wake of the optimism and prosperity of the post-war era, the automobile was then a physical embodiment of the American Dream, symbolizing freedom, independence and progress. By the year Warhol executed the present lot, 44 percent of Americans owned one; At the same time, more than 40,000 people die in car accidents each year, an average of over 100 per day.

Through the Car Crash paintings, Warhol fearlessly explored a darker side of American society and addressed issues that most chose not to acknowledge.

founded in 1963, White Disaster (White Car Crash 19 times) is three meters tall and is the largest one-piece car crash painting in the series. Here, 19 imprints from a fatal collision roll appear in a cinematic sequence on the towering screen, exuding an atmosphere of solemnity almost like an altarpiece.

Orange car crash fourteen timess | The Museum of Modern Art in New York
Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster) | Sold for $105 million in 2013

Just two more large-scale death and disaster Paintings carry this impression of crashing, one of which Orange car crash fourteen timess, located in the Museum of Modern Art in New York; the other, Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster), once set the auction record for the artist.

While the present painting is compositionally vertically oriented, the other two works both use a double canvas format and feature silkscreen images cascading down the left side.

It’s been almost a decade since one of Warhol’s death and disasters paintings came onto the market – most recently the record mentioned above Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster). 2007 another Car Crash painting with a different print, Green Car Crash (Green Burning Car I)sold for $71.7 million at Christie’s New York.

Green Car Crash (Green Burning Car I) | Sold at Christie’s New York in 2007 for $71,720,000

Shot Sage Blue Marilyn was sold last May for a record-breaking $195 million

White Disaster (White Car Crash 19 times) was originally owned by the Stable Gallery in New York, where Warhol held his first solo pop show in the city. It later passed into the hands of Heiner Friedrich, a venerable art dealer and collector and founder of the Dia Art Foundation.

In May 1987, two months after Warhol’s death, the present object was listed for sale at Christie’s New York and sold for $6.6 million to Thomas Ammann, a friend of the artist and a leading Swiss art dealer. Two years later, this painting was included in Warhol’s 1989 retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

In 1996 the painting was sold to the current owner and is now back on the market after remaining in the same private collection for more than 25 years. If it reaches its unpublished estimate of $80 million, the work would be one of the top five most expensive Warhol paintings at auction.

Other highlight lots:

Lot 108 | Willem de Kooning | Untitled, oil on canvas

Created about 1979
70″ x 80″

  • The artist
  • From there by inheritance to the current owner

Estimate: $30,000,000 – $40,000,000

Lot 120 | Franz Bacon | Three Studies for Portrait of Lucian Freud, oil on canvas, in three parts

Created in 1964
Each: 14″ x 12″.
Origin (changed by value):

  • Marlborough Fine Art, Ltd., London
  • Private collection, Paris (acquired there in 1964)
  • Sotheby’s London 10 February 2011, Lot 30 (Sold: £23,001,250)
  • Purchased above sale

Estimate: $30,000,000 – $40,000,000

Lot 127 | Jean Michel Basquiat | Saxaphone, acrylic and oil pencil on canvas

Created in 1986
66″ x 60″.
Origin (changed by value):

  • Thaddaeus Ropac Gallery, Salzburg
  • Private Collection, Brussels
  • Christie’s London 24 June 1993, lot 103 (Sold: £58,700)
  • Private collection, New York
  • Sotheby’s New York, November 19, 1997, lot 55 (consigned from above)
  • Private collection (acquired from above sale)
  • Sotheby’s London 26 June 2012, lot 20 (posted from above, sold £2,729,250)
  • Private collection (acquired from above sale)
  • Purchased from the above by the current owner

Estimate: $12,000,000 – $18,000,000

Lot 107 | Willem de Kooning | Montauk II, oil on paper laid down on canvas

Created in 1969
184.2 x 178.4 cm

  • The artist
  • From there by inheritance to the current owner

Estimate: $10,000,000 – $15,000,000

Lot 110 | Joan Mitchell | Yves, oil on canvas

Created in 1991

  • Artist’s estate
  • The Joan Mitchell Foundation, New York
  • Cheim & Read, New York
  • Purchased from the above by the current owner

Estimate: $10,000,000 – $15,000,000

Auction details:

Auction house: Sotheby’s New York
Auction: Contemporary evening auction
Date: November 16, 2022
Number of lots: 39


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