$110M Basquiat paint­ing sets auc­tion record

The Hamilton Spectator - - A&E - KATYA KAZAKINA Bloomberg

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.

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