Inside The Shooting Of Pop Art Superstar Andy Warhol

Troubled writer Valerie Solanas said she committed the crime because the famed artist had “too much control” over her life.

American Pop artist Andy Warhol (1928 - 1987) sits in front of several paintings in his 'Endangered Species' at his studio, the Factory, in Union Square, New York, New York, April 12, 1983.

Andy Warhol rose to fame because of his pop art, but his celebrity came at a steep price and he nearly lost his life when he was shot in New York City by a woman harboring a grudge.

Photo by: Brownie Harris via Getty Images

Brownie Harris via Getty Images

By: Aaron Rasmussen

Andy Warhol rose to fame because of his pop art, but his celebrity came at a steep price and he nearly lost his life when he was shot in New York City by a woman harboring a grudge.

On June 3, 1968, Warhol was at “The Factory,” his sixth-floor art studio in Manhattan’s Union Square. Valerie Solanas, a homeless writer, had stopped by multiple times to see if Warhol was around, but she was turned away by his associates, who claimed he was out.

At around 4:30 p.m., several of Warhol’s associates were working in the studio when Solanas arrived and pulled out a .32 Beretta and fired multiple times at Warhol shortly after he took a phone call.

He was struck twice.

Warhol’s business manager, Fred Hughes, recounted what happened next in Blake Gopnik's biography of the art star, Newsweek reported.

“She puts the gun next to his [Hughes'] head and says, ‘I'm gonna shoot you’ ... and the elevator door opened ... And Fred said, ‘Oh, there's the elevator. Why don't you get on Valerie? ... And she said, ‘Oh, that's a good idea.’ And she went on the elevator.”

Warhol was rushed to the hospital, where he would spend the next eight weeks getting treated for his wounds to his stomach, liver, spleen, esophagus and lungs. Because of his extensive injuries, Warhol’s organs were kept in place by a surgical corset he had to wear for the rest of his life.

Solanas turned herself in to an officer in Times Square the day of the shooting and reportedly later said she shot Warhol because he had “too much control” over her life.

The troubled woman had written a play she titled Up Your Ass and starting in 1965 she tried to convince Warhol to help her get it to the stage. She gave him the script, which he then lost.

The same year, Solanas, who founded an organization she called the Society for Cutting Up Men (SCUM), began working on The SCUM Manifesto. She wrote her goal was to “overthrow the government, eliminate the money system, institute complete automation and eliminate the male sex.”

Despite Solanas’ repeated requests, Warhol refused to help her promote her single-member organization. She reportedly grew angry and began to believe the artist was trying to use her work to his advantage.

“She obviously knew that Andy would borrow ideas, or steal ideas, and so she became paranoid that he didn't in fact lose the play, but wanted to keep it, claim it, and make it his own,” Jose Diaz, former curator of Pittsburgh’s Andy Warhol Museum, told

Solanas was found competent to stand trial for shooting Warhol despite doctors diagnosing her with paranoid schizophrenia. She pleaded guilty to assault charges and served three years behind bars before her release in 1971.

In 1988, she was 52 when she died in San Francisco from pneumonia.

“I said that I wasn’t creative since I was shot, because after that I stopped seeing creepy people,” Warhol wrote in his diary in November 1978 about the aftermath of the shooting.

Warhol put off a gallbladder surgery for years as a direct result of the fear of hospitals he developed following the incident. He died on Feb. 21, 1987, from cardiac arrest after finally undergoing the procedure.

Next Up

Crimes Of The '90s: The Happy Land Fire

On March 25, 1990, a man upset about getting kicked out of the club after a fight with his girlfriend set fire to New York City's Happy Land Social Club, killing 87 people.

‘90s Crime Flashback: JLo’s Brief Brush With The Law

In 1999, JLo was at an album release party when shots rang out. Here’s how she got caught up behind bars for 14 hours.

5 Things To Know About The Case Of Amy Fisher, The 'Long Island Lolita'

According to legal documents, 17-year-old Amy Fisher whipped out a .25-caliber handgun, shot Mary Jo Buttafuoco in the face, and took off.

Alec Baldwin To Be Charged With Involuntary Manslaughter In 'Rust' Shooting Death

The actor, as well as the head armorer on the set, will be charged in connection with the October 2021 shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.

Did Lana Del Rey's Stalker Steal Her Car? What To Know About The Singer's History Of Stalkers

The Grammy-nominated singer has had multiple stalkers since 2018.

Who Was Notorious Jewel Thief Jack “Murph The Surf” Murphy?

Not all of the details Murphy shared about his life can be verified, but what we know to be true is a fascinating tale about a daytime surfer who moonlighted as a high-end thief.

How Did The Teen “Bling Ring” Manage To Rob Celebs Of Millions?

Seven LA teens and young adults were accused of robbing multiple celebrity homes in 2008 and 2009.

More Than Half A Century After His Assassination, Dr. King’s Legacy Lives On

On April 4, 1968, James Earl Ray shot and killed the civil rights leader while he stood on the balcony of his Memphis motel room.

A Senior Citizen Was Arrested In 40-Year-Old Cold Case Of Kansas Nursing Student

Steven Hanks was initially a suspect in the 1980 killing of Mary Robin Walter, but it took police until December 2022 to arrest him.

‘I Will Never Forgive You’: Sex Trafficking Survivor Helps Put Her Captors Behind Bars

“Now I'm free, but the trauma, it's still there,” Faith Robles says of her three-and-a-half-year ordeal.