Art auctions

Basquiat painting sells for record price

A New York art auction has fetched $110 million for a giant canvas by the late artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. The sale of the 1982 "Untitled" painting sets a new record price for American artists at auction.

Gemälde Untitled von Jean-Michel Basquiat (picture-alliance/dpa/Courtesy Sotheby's)

A Japanese collector and billionaire won a 10-minute auction tussle at Sotherby's on Thursday for a skull-like head in oil, acrylic and spray paint by bidding $110.5 million (99.2 million euros).

Brooklyn-born Basquiat, whose parents were Haitian and Puerto Rican, visited New York art museums as a young boy and later became a street and graffiti artist.

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

'So much excitement'

Japanese entrepreneur Yasaku Maezawa said he planned to display Basquiat's work at his museum in Chiba, Japan, after loaning it to institutions around the world.

"When I saw this painting, I was struck with so much excitement and gratitude for my love of art," said Maezawa.

"I've never seen so much emotion in such a painting," said Sotherby's head of contemporary art Gregoire Billault.

USA Künstler Jean-Michel Basquiat (picture alliance/dpa/ADAGP/L. Himmel)

Basquiat in his Noho, NY workshop in 1984

Loud cheers greeted the purchase, which also doubled the price paid for a previous Basquiat at $57 million last year.

"Untitled" was virtually unknown before it was unveiled at Sotheby's just weeks ago.

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

Among greats

Since his death, Basquiat has won increasing acclaim for his works that often reflected racism endured by generations of blacks in America.

On Wednesday, rival auction house Christie's sold Basquiat's work "La Hara,"  a piece from 1981 depicting an angry-looking New York police officer.

A Pablo Picasso work "The Women of Algiers" (Version 0) holds the world record for the heftiest price tag at auction at $179.4 million.

The Picasso piece sold at Christie's in New York in 2015.

ipj/gsw (AP, AFP)

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