$110.5 Million Jean-Michel Basquiat Painting Breaks Sotheby’s Record

Painting, 'Untitled,' had last appeared in the art market in 1984, when it sold for $19K.

May 19, 2017 10:07 am
Jean-Michel Basquiat Painting Breaks Record at Sotheby's With $110.5 Million Hammer Price
Artist Jean-Michel paints in 1983 in St. Moritz, Switzerland. (Lee Jaffe/Getty Images)

Jean-Michel Basquiat just joined an elite club of artists—the $100 million pantheon.

Thursday night at Sotheby’s New York, a Basquiat, simply called “Untitled,” which the famed New York City pop artist painted in 1982, landed at an astonishing hammer-price of $110.5 million.

According to Sotheby’s, that’s an auction record for any American artist—as well as the highest-ever auction price for a contemporary work post-1980, the second-highest price for any contemporary artwork sold at auction, and the sixth-highest price of any piece ever sold.

That’s no small feat for an African-American artist, who was a high school dropout and once homeless—and had barely broken through in the art world by 1982, when he painted the piece.

Jean-Michel Basquiat Painting Sells for Record $110.5 Million
Jean-Michel Basquiat, ‘Untitled,’ 1982 (Sotheby’s/© 2017 The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat/ADAGP, Paris/ARS)

It’s also a major win for art collectors who already own pieces from his catalog. “Tonight, Jean-Michel Basquiat entered the pantheon of artists whose works have commanded prices over $100 million, including Picasso, Giacometti, Bacon, and Warhol,” said Grégoire Billault, head of Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Department in New York, in a statement.

It was the first time Basquiat’s “Untitled” had surfaced since 1984, when it sold for a paltry $19,000.

The piece was purchased by Japanese entrepreneur and art collector Yusaku Maezawa, whom Forbes recently listed as one of the wealthiest men in Japan.

Watch the furious bidding war for the painting below.


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