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Andy Warhol masterpiece from Death And Disaster series sells for £72 million

Andy Warhol masterpiece from ‘Death And Disaster’ series sells for £72 million (Sotheby’s/PA)
Andy Warhol masterpiece from ‘Death And Disaster’ series sells for £72 million (Sotheby’s/PA)

Andy Warhol’s masterpiece White Disaster (White Car Crash 19 Times), has sold for £72 million, one of the highest prices ever achieved for a work by the artist at auction.

The rare work from the US artist’s celebrated Death And Disaster series garnered almost a third of the total sum raised by an evening of contemporary sales at Sotheby’s on Wednesday night.

Taking place in New York, the sale totalled £265 million, the auction house said.

Warhol’s rare masterpiece White Disaster (White Car Crash 19 Times) (left) went under the hammer in New York on Wednesday (Sotheby’s/PA)

The titan of pop art, who was said to be fixated on themes of death and mortality, printed 19 images of a fatal car crash in black and white tones to match the newspapers from which he drew inspiration creating White Disaster (White Car Crash 19 Times).

The 1963 piece is considered one of the most provocative and haunting artistic achievements of the 20th century and “arguably the most significant achievement of his career”, Sotheby’s said.

The work, from a private collection where it has been for 25 years, is the first large painting from Warhol’s Death And Disaster series to come to auction since 2013 when Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster) made 105.4 million dollars (£91 million) – a record for the artist at the time.

Andy Warhol, White Disaster (White Car Crash 19 Times), Estimate Upon Request
The 1963 piece is considered one of the most provocative and haunting artistic achievements of the 20th century (Sotheby’s/PA)

Prior to that, the only other work from the series to come to auction in the past 15 years also set an auction record for the artist in 2007 when Green Car Crash (Green Burning Car) sold for 71.7 million dollars (£62 million).

Measuring 12ft tall, it is the largest of all Warhol’s single-panel Car Crash works.

The Sotheby’s auction on Wednesday also saw strong prices for works from celebrated collections, including from the de Kooning Family Collection, The Collection of Geraldine and Harold Alden, The Mallin Collection, and The Collection of William S Paley.