- Title: Basquiat canvas soars to record $110.5 USD million at Sotheby's N.Y. auction
- Date: 19th May 2017
- Summary: NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES (MAY 18, 2017) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT "UNTITLED" BEING SOLD AT AUCTION (SOUNDBITE) (English) OLIVER BARKER, SOTHEBY'S INTERNATIONAL SPECIALIST OF CONTEMPORARY ART AND AUCTIONEER, SAYING: "Totally thrilling, I mean it really is such a privilege to have handled this extraordinary picture. We had an electrifying ten minute bidding battle on the picture which I think was pure drama. I am this is what the auction theater is really all about." PAINTING ON DISPLAY (SOUNDBITE) (English) OLIVER BARKER, SOTHEBY'S INTERNATIONAL SPECIALIST OF CONTEMPORARY ART AND AUCTIONEER, SAYING: (DID YOU EXPECT TO GO FOR SO MUCH?) "No, I don't think we did. We definitely had an idea that everybody felt it was a masterpiece. There were no sort of dissenting voices in the market. Everybody sort of said, 'yes it's truly great.' But the air gets pretty thin at those sort of levels, you know, financial, so of course - you know, the record price, the previous record price was less than half of what we achieved this evening. So you know, you're going into very new territory ultimately."
- Embargoed: 2nd June 2017 05:15
- Keywords: Sothebyâ€™s Jean-Michel Basquiat Contemporary art Post-War art auction
- Location: NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES
- City: NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES
- Country: USA
- Topics: Art,Arts / Culture / Entertainment,Human Interest / Brights / Odd News
- Reuters ID: LVA0016HI5X09
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:A little-seen painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat which sold for $19,000 USD in 1984 soared to an astounding $110.5 million at Sotheby's on Thursday (May 18), the second-highest price ever for a work of contemporary art, and bearing testament to the eagerness of deep-pocketed collectors to spend freely on trophy pieces.
Basquiat's vibrant, untitled 1982 portrait achieved the sixth-highest price for any work of art at auction, and also set records for an American artist, as well as for the artist, who died in 1987.
The canvas was bought by entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa, founder of e-commerce giant Start Today, after a protracted, old-school bidding war that included four participants beyond the $60 million pre-sale estimate.
Maezawa said he intends to lend the work for public exhibitions before housing it in his own museum in his native Chiba, Japan.
Sustained whoops and cheers that harked back to the tenor of the post-2010 art market boom, which was marked by spiking prices and ever-new records, broke out as the hammer came down in Sotheby's packed salesroom.
Only two of the 50 works on offer went unsold on Thursday, the last night of key spring sales for powerhouses Sotheby's and rival Christie's.
"This is what the auction theater is really about," said Barker.
The hefty price also moved Basquiat, who died of a heroin overdose in 1988 aged 27, into the pantheon of such iconic artists as Picasso, Giacommetti, Warhol and Francis Bacon, Barker noted.
The sale was not without other highlights, though none in the same estimable league.
Roy Lichtenstein's "Nude Sunbathing" fetched $24 million, while Gerhard Richter's "Abstraktes Bild" went for $15.4 million. Both works sold in the middle of their estimate range.
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