Basquiat painting fetches record $110.5M at New York auction

Maezawa surpassed the benchmark he set for Basquiat's art with last year's $57.3 million acquisition of another of his 1982 "Untitled" paintings.

A blend of acrylic, spray paint, and oil stick, the skull painting last appeared on the market nearly exactly 13 years ago, when it sold for $19,000 to collectors Jerry and Emily Spiegel.

The painting, described as "Raw, uncensored, and fiercely magnificent" and an "incomparable masterwork" by Sotheby's, was acquired by Jerry and Emily Spiegel for $19,000 in 1984, and the couple kept it in their private collection and never exhibited it.

The victor in this bidding war was Yusaku Maezawa, a Japanese entrepreneur who owns e-commerce sites. One day the painting will be a centerpiece of my museum in my hometown Chiba, but before then 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.

Virtually unknown before, it was first unveiled at Sotheby's in NY just weeks ago and wrapped up Friday's auction, which scored over $1bn in sales.

Sotheby's said the painting - one of numerous untitled masterpieces by Basquiat, who died in 1988 at age 27 - sold in only 10 minutes.

The New York Times reports it was also the record price for any American artist, as well as for any black artist.

Once a graffiti rebel from Brooklyn who sold drawings for $50, he is now in the same league as Pablo Picasso and Francis Bacon, she says - part of a rare group of artists whose work has sold for more than $100m at auction.

"I am happy to announce that I just won this masterpiece", Maezawa wrote on Instagram alongside a picture of himself with the picture.

The amount it sold for blew away the auction house's pre-sale estimate of $60 million.

It was Basquiat's night, with five of the artist's works realising a combined $129.3 million.

Sothebys (NYSE:BID) saw a painting sell for $110.5 million on Thursday, May 18, 2017.

Sotheby's auction of the painting started at $57 million. "I think it just speaks about the talent of this guy". "It's just pure emotion".

$110.5m. Jean-Michel Basquiat "Untitled".

"He's bringing something never seen before", Billaut said.

  • Salvatore Jensen