Andy Warhol’s Green Car Crash (Green Burning Car I)


2015-06-26 11:14:17

Andy Warhol’s Green Car Crash (Green Burning Car I)

Andy Warhol’s Green Car Crash (Green Burning Car I) is a painting by the late Pop Artist and filmmaker, Andy Warhol.


During the years 1962-64, Warhol created a series of paintings known as his Death and Disaster series. Each focussed on morbid themes presented in grainy, black and white tabloid images.

Themes explored by Warhol included race riots, suicides, fatal accidents and instruments of death including electric chairs and the atomic bomb.

The painting

Many experts argued that Green Car Crash (Green Burning Car I) is the best known piece from Warhol’s Death and Disaster series of works.

One of five “Burning Car” works, the painting is highly prized among collectors.


The work was created in 1963 by Warhol and his new assistant Gerard Malanga (b. 1943). It is based on a photograph by John Whitehead which was published in the June 3rd issue of Newsweek.

John Whitehead’s photograph

The photograph on which Green Car Crash (Green Burning Car I) is based actually depicts a car crash in Seattle which followed a police chase. The pursued vehicle at overturned at 60mph, ejecting the driver and impaling his body on a nearby utility pole.

Unique features

Of the five "Burning Car" paintings, Green Car Crash (Green Burning Car I) is the only example to use a colour other than black and white.

Notable sale

In May 2007, this painting was sold at a Christie’s auction in New York for a then-record auction price of $71.7 million to art collector Philip Niarchos, son of the Greek shipping magnate Stavros Niarchos.

Prior to the sale, the work had been held privately for 30 years and generated a tremendous amount of interest in potential buyers.

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