It's a long way from the glamour of Marilyn Monroe or Elizabeth Taylor... Legendary pop artist Andy Warhol's 1963 painting of a car crash was the star lot in second-most valuable art auction in history, over the weekend.
Warhol's grand Green Car Crash (Green Burning Car I) realised $71.1m, one of 17 works to sell above $5m at Christie's Post-War and Contemporary Art sale in New York. The result cements Warhol's status as the most coveted art star on the market.
Green Car Crash is perhaps the most striking work from Warhol's Death and Disaster series, with which the artist added car crashes and other disasters to his repertoire of celebrities and everyday objects.
Along with its sibling works Red Car Crash, Purple Jumping Man and Orange Disaster, the work is a satire on the evolving mass media and their growing tendencies to turn personal life tragedies into public spectacles.
Another stunning result for a Warhol in the same sale was an important example of his celebrity fixation. Lemon Marilyn auctioned with an original estimate of $18m, eventually realising $28,040,000.
Other stars in the sale included Mark Rothko and Jasper Johns. The former's Untitled 1954, reportedly from a "Distinguished Private Collection", and Untitled 1961 from the Eastman Family Collection sold for $26,920,000 and $22,440,000 respectively.
Untitled 1954 is now the second-most valuable Rothko artwork on the market which, along with Untitled 1961, showcases the movement, energy and absorbing spectrums of colour which typify his works.
Elsewhere, Jasper Johns 1959 oil, encaustic and collage on canvas, Figure 4, was another noteworthy lot in the sale. While it didn't top the $28,642,500 brought by the iconic Flag, 1960-1966 at Christie's earlier this year, Figure 4 went to its new buyer for $17,400,000.
Like Warhol's Green Car Crash, Johns's Figure 4 sold with unbeatable provenance after residing in a private collection for decades. The work was consigned by the daughter of Leo Castelli, Johns's lifelong dealer.
According to Christie's, 74% of the offered lots sold for above their pre-sale estimate, attracting 47% American buyers, 19% European, 18% Asian and 16% other.
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