Basquiat “Untitled” Painting Breaks Record At Sotheby’s Auction

May 20, 2017  |  

basquiat piece breaks record

Jean-Michel Basquiat, the Brooklyn-born artist who went from graffiti artist to art world wonder in just seven years before losing his life to a tragic heroin overdose in 1988, just made history. The artist who is a rap lyric favorite of artists like Jay-Z and Kanye West recently broke a record with his painting “Untitled” selling for $110.5 million at an auction at Sotheby’s, the sixth most expensive work to ever be sold at auction.

Dealer and Basquiat expert Jeffrey Deitch remarked the artist of Haitian and Puerto-Rican descent just joined the ranks of some of history’s most revered artists:

“He’s now in the same league as Francis Bacon and Pablo Picasso.”

According to the New York Times, only ten other works have broken the $100 million mark.

Not too long after the sale was announced, Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa took to Instagram and revealed himself to be the buyer of “Untitled”, a painted of a skull forged by oil stick and spray paint.

41-year-old Maezawa  is founder of the Contemporary Art Foundation and as well as Japan’s largest online fashion mall, Zozotown. Last year, he set the previous auction for Basquiat high paying $57.3 million for the artist’s 1982 painting of a horned devil at Christie’s. In a statement to Sotheby’s he stated:

“I wish to loan this piece — which has been unseen by the public for more than 30 years — to institutions and exhibitions around the world. I hope it brings as much joy to others as it does to me, and that this masterpiece by the 21-year-old Basquiat inspires our future generations.”

Basquiat’s work focused on themes such as wealth vs. poverty using social commentary in his work to attack power structures, racism and class struggle. Last year Basquiat became the highest –grossing Americana artist at auction, generating $171.5 million from 80 works, his auction high increasing at least tenfold in the last 15 years.

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