Basquiat art nets $110m
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.