Wednesday, 26 July, 2017

Basquiat painting fetches record $110.5M at New York auction

Frank Williams | 19 May, 2017, 08:18

An artwork by Jean-Michel Basquiat (zhahn mee-SHEHL' BAH'-skee-aht) sold for a record $110.5 million at auction in NY.

A Sotheby's official speaks about 'Untitled, ' a 1982 painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat during a media preview at Sotheby's in New York May 5, 2017.

The iconic artist's "Untitled" was sold by Sotheby's on Thursday night in Manhattan at auction.

A week ago, a 1982 Basquiat self-portrait that had been featured in a number of major retrospectives sold for $57.3 million at a Christie's auction in NY. During bidding, the auctioneer offered occasional moments of levity and encouragement.

"It's a great masterpiece at $98 million dollars", he said to laughter in the room. The $110.5 million price tag includes the buyer's premium.

Basquiat died in 1988 of a drug overdose at the age of 27.

The sale, to 41-year-old e-commerce king Yusaku Maezawa, provided a crackling cap to New York's spring auctions, where sales exceeded expectations in many, but not all, categories.

The auction house said it had remained in the same private collection since it was bought at auction in 1984 for $19,000.

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The painting carried a presale estimate in excess of $60 million and was widely reported to have been guaranteed at $60 million by Sotheby's.

Thursday's sale draws Basquiat's painting into the same league as those of Pablo Picasso and Francis Bacon whose works sold for over $100m at auction.

The subject of much of Basquiat's work - ordeals endured by blacks in America - is finding renewed resonance in the wake of nationwide USA protests since 2014 about the shootings of unarmed black men by police.

The Picasso piece sold at Christie's in NY in 2015.

And it's the first work made after 1980 to sell for more than $100 million.

"When I saw this painting, I was struck with so much excitement and gratitude for my love of art", he said. "It's just pure emotion". "He's bringing something never seen before".

Sustained whoops and cheers that harked back to the tenor of the post-2010 art market boom, which was marked by spiking prices and ever-new records, broke out as the hammer came down in Sotheby's packed salesroom.

It was described by the auction house as: 'raw, uncensored, and fiercely magnificent.

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