Basquiat painting fetches record $110.5M at New York auction

Posted May 19, 2017

A little-seen painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat that sold for $19,000 in 1984 soared to an astounding $110.5 million at Sotheby's on Thursday, the second-highest price ever for a work of contemporary art.

Sotheby's said the sale of the artwork Thursday night in Manhattan was an auction record for the artist.

Loud cheers and applause greeted the conclusion of the sale, which nearly doubled the previous Basquiat record of US$57 million, set for a self-portrait snapped up by a Japanese billionaire at Sotheby's a year ago.

The untitled work was done in oil-stick, acrylic and spray paint and depicts a skull.

Japanese buyer, e-commerce tycoon Yusaku Maezawa was the buyer.

- "Pantheon of greats" -Sotheby's announced that the painting will be housed eventually in a museum based in Maezawa's hometown of Chiba, Japan.

The previous record was $105.4 million paid for Andy Warhol's "Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster)" four years ago, multiple outlets reported. It marks a world auction record for the artist, who died at age 27 in 1988.

The Picasso piece sold at Christie's in NY in 2015.

"Breaking $100 million for a work which is that recent is definitely extraordinary".

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

Sotheby's sale, which brought a total of $319 million against a low estimate of $211 million with 96 percent of the 50 lots sold, was a contrast to Tuesday night's lower-energy contemporary auction at Christie's. "It's just pure emotion".

Roy Lichtenstein's "Nude Sunbathing" fetched $24 million, while Gerhard Richter's "Abstraktes Bild" went for $15.4 million.

"Here he is, blazing a trail not only in terms of the market but also in terms of how his work is perceived more widely", said the artist Adam Pendleton, who is African-American. His "The Women of Algiers (Version 0)" fetched $179.4 million at Christie's in NY in 2015.