Basquiat painting fetches record $110.5M at New York auction


An untitled painting by Jean Michel Basquiat sold for a record $110.5 million at auction in New York

Basquiat's vibrant, untitled 1982 portrait achieved the sixth-highest price for any work of art at auction, bearing testament to the eagerness of deep-pocketed collectors to spend freely on trophy pieces.

"I've never seen so much emotions in such a painting", he said. "I want to share that experience with as many people as possible".

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

Thursday's sale draws Basquiat's painting into the same league as those of Pablo Picasso and Francis Bacon whose works sold for over $100m at auction.

The previous auction record for the artist was set last May when "Untitled, 1982" sold for $57.3 million, also to Maezawa.

A tense bidding war lasted for around 10 minutes between a client in Sotheby's NY showroom and another on the telephone, with the telephone buyer ultimately clinching the top bid.

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The canvas was last bought in 1984 at Christie's for US$19,000.

Rival auction house Christie's sold Basquiat's La Hara - a 1981 acrylic and oil-stick of an angry-looking NY police officer - for US$35 million on Wednesday, eclipsing its US$22-28 million estimate. "I think it just speaks about the talent of this guy", said Gregoire Billault, Sotheby's head of contemporary art.

The oilstick, acrylic and spray-painted piece, described by Sotheby's as "raw, uncensored and fiercely magnificent", topped the record $105.4 million paid in November 2013 for an American painting - Basquiat cohort Andy Warhol's 1963 "Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster)". In total, $319.2million was spent on 50 lot items.

Sotheby's said the sale of "Untitled" was an auction record for the artist.

Sotheby's concludes its week of sales on Friday.

This season saw a majority of art either coming fresh to market or being offered at auction for the first time in 20 years or more.

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