Andy Warhol’s 12-Foot-Tall ‘White Disaster’ painting could fetch $80 Million at auction

Andy Warhol’s White Disaster (White Car Crash 19 times), which displays a repeated black-and-white graphic of a fatal collision across a towering 12-foot tall and 6ft wide canvas, is estimated to sell for at least $80 million in New York this month. 

Referred to as the ‘Pope of pop art,’ Andy Warhol is most recognised for his bright, colourful paintings and prints of subjects ranging from celebrities including Marilyn Monroe and Michael Jackson to typical American everyday products such as Campbell’s Tomato Soup and Coca-Cola. 

Between 1962 and 1964, Warhol moved away from tins of soup and cans of Cola to embark on a journey of creating Car Crash paintings as part of his Death and Disaster series – a body of work epitomising the concerns of human mortality. The series includes repeated images of atomic bombs, aeroplane crashes and car accidents, amongst other tragedies, illustrating how seeing a “gruesome” picture over and over again loses its effect. 
In a 2013 interview, Art historian John Richardson, comments, “these Disaster paintings are not Andy revelling in disaster: this is Andy sitting at the Eye of the Storm, being the one still person among disasters, death, and horror… And that is why to my mind they are the most moving, and the strongest of all of Andy’s imagery.”

Andy Warhol’s famous faces Photo Credit: McGaw Graphics

Sotheby’s – one of the world’s largest auction houses – will auction White Disaster (White Car Crash 19 times) on behalf of a private owner on November 16th, alongside works by Roy Lichtenstein, Francis Bacon, Willem de Kooning and Joan Mithell. 

Considered the largest and most ambitious Car Crash painting that Warhol has ever executed, the work invites the viewer to explore the ways that we have become desensitised to violence through repeated exposure to it. 

A monumental altarpiece for the modern age, Andy Warhol’s White Disaster (White Car Crash 19 Times) from 1963 stands amongst the most radical and haunting artistic achievements of the 20th century” – Sotheby’s 

In May, Warhol’s screenprint of Marilyn Monroe –Shot Sage Blue Marilyn (1964) – sold for a staggering $195 million, which is not only Warhol’s auction record but also the highest price ever reached for an American artist at auction. 

If White Disaster (White Car Crash 19 Times) meets its $80m estimate, the piece will be one of Warhol’s top five most expensive works, close behind Triple Elvis (Ferus Type), which sold for $81.9m in 2014 and is currently the artist’s third most expensive work sold at auction. 

Famous for his use of repeated images, John Richardson explains, “the whole repetition of Andy’s imagery stems from the fact that he was Catholic. He went to church, he went to confession, he had to do 10 Hail Marys, 20 Ave Marias, and all this is reflected in the way his imagery is repeated again and again and again.” 

White Disaster (White Car Crash 19 Times) was included in a public pre-sale exhibition at Sotheby’s New York on 4th November, marking the first time the work has been displayed in public in more than 15 years. 
On November 16th, White Disaster will go on sale at auction. Click here to see if it reached its estimated $80m.

Main image: Andy Warhol’s White Disaster (White Car Crash 19 Times), Photo Credit, Sotheby’s