Basquiat Painting Fetches Record $110.5M at New York Auction

Gwen Vasquez
May 19, 2017

Sotheby's said the sale of the artwork Thursday night in Manhattan was an auction record for the artist. "I want to share that experience with as many people as possible", Maezawa said according to Financial Times. Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Basquiat died at just 27 of a heroin overdose, leaving a large body of work in his trade mark frenetic, expressive style.

On Wednesday, rival auction house Christie's sold Basquiat's work "La Hara", a piece from 1981 depicting an angry-looking NY police officer.

Maezawa said he intends to lend the work for public exhibitions before housing it in his own museum in his native Chiba, Japan.

A week ago, a 1982 Basquiat self-portrait that had been featured in a number of major retrospectives sold for $57.3 million at a Christie's auction in NY.

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.

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

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The subject of much of his work - ordeals endured by blacks in the USA - is finding renewed resonance in the wake of nationwide United States protests since 2014 about the shootings of unarmed black men by police.

And it's the first work made after 1980 to sell for more than $100 million.

"I've never seen so much emotion in such a painting", said Sotherby's head of contemporary art Gregoire Billault.

"Now he goes into the pantheon of great, great artists", said Oliver Barker, chairman of Sotheby's Europe. "It's as simple as that".

Christie's announced Thursday that its impressionist, modern, post-war and contemporary sales this week totaled $842.5 million, which it said was up $220 million over its sales last season in November.

The auction, held at Sotheby's in NY on Wednesday, drew gasps from the crowd as the price "sailed past" the expected $US60 million mark. That piece also sold to Maezawa.

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