Basquiat Painting Fetches Record $110.5M at New York Auction

Last night in New York, Sotheby's set an auction record for Jean-Michel Basquiat when Untitled, a masterpiece from 1982, sold for $110,487,500 million in the Contemporary Art Evening Auction.

The painting, called Untitled, depicts a skull drawn in a primitive, nearly hastily scribbled style, done in oil stick and spray paint.

Basquiat-who died from a drug overdose when he was 27 years old-achieved fame during his short lifetime. The battle for the piece of art lasted for 10 minutes as three different groups continued to bid for it. The work led four days of bellwether auctions in NY where the world's wealthiest investors and families dropped more than $1.5 billion on Impressionist, modern, postwar and contemporary art.

"I am happy to announce that I just won this masterpiece", Maezawa wrote on Instagram. Mr. Maezawa later told Sotheby's that he bought his latest painting by the artist for a planned museum in his hometown, Chiba, Japan. Maclean's client purchased a Basquiat piece for $57.3 million in 2016. It also set a record price for an American artist at auction.

Most of his works depict the problems faced by African Americans in the United States, reports the BBC's Laura Bicker in Washington. Of Puerto Rican and Haitian descent, he initially gained attention for his graffiti before eventually becoming one of the most celebrated artists of the time.

He had his first solo exhibition in 1980 and swiftly became established.

By AFP's Jennie Matthew in NY.

The New York artist was born in Brooklyn 1960, and developed a love of art profoundly influenced by the likes of Andy Warhol - a love of which he initially expressed in spray paintings around New York City during the mid-1970s.

His death, in his Manhattan art studio, bequeathed him cult status.

Yesterday (May 18), one of his paintings sold for $110.5 million and set several art world records, including for the highest-auctioned work by a USA artist.

The Basquiat propelled Sotheby's auction results to $319 million in sales, a 32 percent increase from a year ago.

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