Basquiat painting sets new record for U.S. artist at auction

Sotheby's via AP

Sotheby's via AP

He bought another Basquiat past year, again called "Untitled", for $57 million.

The canvas had been virtually unseen in public since being bought in 1984 for $19 000.

Jean-Michel Basquiat began his career as a humble NY street artist in the late 1970s-but a recent record-breaking sale at Sotheby's auction house ensured that the painter's name will be mentioned in the same breath as Pablo Picasso, Francis Bacon, Andy Warhol, and other modernist greats.

The untitled painting's new owner is Yusaku Maezawa, a Japanese e-commerce billionaire who collects art.

The painting called "Untitled" features a skull with crown motifs and influences from Basquiat's early street art days which incorporates graffiti with neo-expressionalism during the 80s where Basquiat was growing up in NY. The billionaire also set the previous record price for a Basquiat painting, shelling out $57.3 million for a piece at a Christie's auction a year ago.

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

Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat painting in 1983 in St. Moritz, Switzerland. The founder of Japan's largest online fashion mall, Zozotown, he had placed his bids anonymously, through the phone.

In addition to films, books and exhibits, the 28-year-old's paintings have sold for millions.

"It's a great masterpiece at $98m dollars", he said to laughter in the room.

The Basquiat propelled Sotheby's auction results to $319 million in sales, a 32 percent increase from a year ago. Maezawa also purchased that piece. "I think it just speaks about the talent of this guy".

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

Sotheby's also sold Roy Lichtenstein's "Nude Sunbathing" on Thursday for $24 million.

"I remember astounding the art world back in 1980s when I set an auction record for Basquiat at $99,000", said Jeffrey Deitch, an art dealer who was the artist's friend and champion.

Latest News