Andy Warhol’s double-panel painting “Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster)” has sold for $105 million (£65m), breaking his record by over $30 million.
The sale follows Francis Bacon’s “Three Studies of Lucian Freud”, which fetched a massive $142.4 million at Christie’s in New York on Tuesday to become the most expensive artwork ever sold at auction.
Not content with letting Bacon steal all the limelight, Warhol’s striking painting depicts the devastating aftermath of a road accident. Part of his death and disaster series, the grisly scene features a body thrown across a mangled vehicle.
The textured eight-by-13 foot painting was created using newspaper images silk-screened onto canvas with reflective silver paint.
Warhol created four car crash artworks in 1963, the others of which are all in museums. “Silver Car Crash” had previously been owned by the likes of Charles Saatchi and German playboy Gunter Sachs.
The artist’s previous auction record was $71.7 million, paid for “Green Car Crash (Green Burning Car I)” in 2007, but this was exceeded last night when five bidders battled to up to $80 million with the eventual, unidentified winner.
Auctioneer Tobias Meyer described “Silver Car Crash” as “the best painting I’ve ever sold in my whole career”. “It’s the monumentality of the image that is so powerful. It’s as if life and death come straight at you,” he said.
“Silver Car Crash” sold for the second highest price in history paid for a contemporary artwork, after Bacon’s 1967 triptych “Three Studies”.
Wednesday’s post-war and contemporary art auction provided Sotheby’s with their highest grand total ever after the artworks brought $380.6 million.
Christie’s sale of contemporary art on Tuesday fetched more than $691.5 million to break the record for the highest total brought by any single auction. Warhol’s iconic “Coca-Cola (3)” sold at this auction for $57.2 million.
Global participation by wealthy collectors has been cited as a reason for the high sales, alongside the “outstanding” quality of the recently auctioned artworks.