A death-focused painting by Andy Warhol, not seen in public for 15 years, is headed for the auction block next month and is expected to fetch a massive sum—though not half as much as one of his more famous works. The "monumental masterpiece" dubbed "White Disaster (White Car Crash 19 Times)," from Warhol's 1960s Death and Disaster series, is expected to sell for at least $80 million, according to Sotheby's, which will auction the piece for a private owner on Nov. 16, per the Guardian.
Given "this quality and rarity and immense visual power, the sky's the limit," says David Galperin, Sotheby's head of contemporary art in New York, per Forbes. Experts say the huge silkscreen painting, 12-feet-tall by 6-feet-wide, was inspired by Warhol’s fascination with death and by his religion. As a devout 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," according to art historian John Richardson.
The painting features repeated images of a crashed vehicle—the same one featured in Warhol's "Silver Car Crash 2 (Double disaster)," which sold for $105.4 million at auction in 2013, and in a third painting in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art. Sotheby's notes "the largest of all Warhol's single-panel car crash works has the power to invoke a sense of awe and reverence akin to that of a religious altarpiece." It was last sold at auction for $650,000 in 1987, per Forbes. Its current owner purchased it privately in 1996 for an unknown sum. (Read more Andy Warhol stories.)