Andy Warhol's "White Disaster" Sold In A Two-Minute Phone Auction For $85 Million

A monumental canvas by Andy Warhol in the 1960s, "White Disaster," hit one of the highest ever prices for his work after being in a private collection for 25 years.

The piece sold for $85 million at an auction held by Sotheby's in New York.

"White Disaster", from the US celebrated Death And Disaster series, sold in two minutes and garnered almost a third of the total sum raised by an evening of contemporary sales at Sotheby's in New York.

Fully titled "White Disaster (White Car Crash 19 Times)," the canvas sold Wednesday night, done in silkscreen ink and graphite, depicts the same image of a car crash. Practically, Warhol printed 19 images of a fatal car crash in black and white tones to match the newspapers from which he drew inspiration for the canvas. The "painting" is 3.6 meters high.

Andy Warhol's "White Disaster" Sold For $85 Million

It took two minutes and a short "duel" of two representatives of the prospective buyers taking orders over the phone to acquire the 1963 work at $74 million, or $85,350,500 with tax, while Sotheby's estimated it at more than $80 million.

According to Sotheby, the 1963 piece is "arguably the most significant achievement of his career".

Andy Warhol, who died in 1987, became a star at auction. White Disaster comes from a private collection where it has been for 25 years and is the first large painting from Warhol's Death And Disaster series under hammer since 2013 when Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster) fetched $105m – a record for Andy Warhol at the time.

Since then, a portrait of actress Marilyn Monroe, "Shot Sage Blue Marilyn" (1962), sold in early May at Christie's, also in New York, for $195 million, becoming the most expensive 20th-century work ever sold at auction.

"In late 1962, Warhol painted Marilyn Monroe, which marked the beginning of his fascination with celebrity imagery. But it’s actually (the) disappearance (from Marilyn Monroe) at the end of the year 1962 and the spectacle that surrounds him which captured his fascination and led him to create paintings of death and disaster at the beginning of the year 1963," explained to AFP David Galperin, head of contemporary art for the Americas at Sotheby’s.

Sotheby's also announced that $315m was generated from artworks sold in total that evening.

There are only three works with this image of the crash in this monumental format, one of which is at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York.

The one sold on Wednesday came from a private collection and Sotheby's did not provide information about the buyer, as usual.

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