$110M Basquiat painting sets auction record
Jean-Michel Basquiat’s painting of a skull sold for $110.5 million at Sotheby’s in New York, setting an auction record for American artists and providing a windfall for the daughter of two collectors who purchased it for $19,000 in 1984.
The buyer was billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, founder of a Japanese fashion website, and a new force in contemporary art. The work led four days of bellwether auctions in New York where the world’s wealthiest investors and f amilies dropped more than $1.5 billion on Impressionist, modern, postwar and contemporary art. The results surpassed the target of $1.3 billion.
Basquiat’s canvas was last purchased at auction three decades ago by the late New York collectors Jerry and Emily Spiegel. It then disappeared from the public view until the couple died in 2009 and their art trove passed on to their two feuding daughters, according to people familiar with the matter.
The elder daughter, Pamela, consigned 107 works to Christie’s, which has sold about 50 lots for $125 million so far this week. The younger daughter, Lise, raised almost as much by selling just one painting — the Basquiat — at Sotheby’s. Arthur Sanders, Pamela’s husband, declined to comment on the sale. A representative for the other sister wasn’t immediately able to comment.
The Basquiat propelled Sotheby’s auction results to $319 million in sales, a 32 per cent increase from a year ago. Fifty lots were offered and all but two sold.
The bidding for the painting started on May 18 at $57 million, sparking gasps in the packed salesroom, and lasted for more than 10 minutes as three parties chased after the work. The result ended up smashing Andy Warhol’s $105.4 million auction record and making Brooklyn-born Basquiat the most expensive American artist at auction. Basquiat died in 1988.
Sotheby’s had valued the work at more than $60 million. Maezawa purchased a separate painting by the artist last year for $57.3 million.
Jean-Michel Basquiat’s “Untitled” was bought by a Japanese billionaire.