Basquiat art nets $110m

NT News - - ENTERTAINMENT -

A lit­tle-seen paint­ing by JeanMichel Basquiat that sold for $US19,000 in 1984 soared to an as­tound­ing $US110.5 mil­lion ($A148.9 mil­lion) at Sotheby’s in New York City, the sec­ond­high­est price ever for a work of con­tem­po­rary art.

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.

It 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 $US60 mil­lion pre-sale es­ti­mate.

Maezawa (pic­tured) says 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.

The sale’s ro­bust $US319.2 mil­lion to­tal, which eas­ily eclipsed even the high $US277 mil­lion pre-sale es­ti­mate, doubt­less went far to­ward purg­ing mem­o­ries of Sotheby’s flac­cid Im­pres­sion­ist and mod­ern art sale, which took place just two nights ear­lier.

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