Andy Warhol Painting Plays Starring Role on ‘Mr. & Mrs. Smith’


In 2013 Andy Warhol‘s Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster), a 1963 painting showing a picture of bloody accident printed many times over, sold at Sotheby’s for $104.5 million, making it then the most expensive work by the Pop artist ever to be auctioned. But in an alternate world, that painting—or a version of it, anyway—sold for $106 million during a silent auction that was intercepted by two undercover spies.

That alternate world is portrayed in Mr. & Mrs. Smith, the new Amazon television series about an espionage-inflected arranged marriage between two employees of a shadowy organization. The titular couple, played by Donald Glover and Maya Erskine, is sent in the second episode to intercept a wealthy man trying to purchase the Warhol painting during a glitzy New York function.

Related Articles

A front view of the American Fine Art Inc. gallery in Scottsdale, Arizona. Three sports cars are parked directly in front and there are three American flags hung on poles.

A painting of an image of an automobile accident repeated many times over beside a panel of white. The tall painting is hung high above people's heads, beneath a sign that reads 'Sotheby's.'

The real Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster) during its auction at Sotheby’s in 2013.

Getty Images

No Warhol painting of that caliber would ever be sold at a party like that one, of course. Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster) belongs to “Death and Disaster,” an acclaimed series in which the artist appropriated sleazy images of carnage, and screen-printed them repeatedly, so that the images appeared distressed and only partially inked. The “Death and Disaster” works are among Warhol’s most famous ones, with some residing in major institutions.

That’s why the Sotheby’s auction was so highly anticipated. The real Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster) had been held in the same European private collection for 20 years before coming to sale in 2013, and was pegged with an $80 million high estimate. The painting ended up besting that; the record minted by the sale stood until 2022, when a Warhol painting of Marilyn Monroe sold at auction for $195 million.

It’s not clear who bought Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster), but the bidder for the version of Mr. & Mrs. Smith is a billionaire played by John Turturro, of Big Lebowski fame. We won’t spoil what happens once he is intercepted by John and Jane Smith, but we’ll leave it at this: the actual buyer of Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster) probably fared better.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *