Basquiat Painting Fetches Record $110.5M at New York Auction

by: The Associated Press
/ (Sotheby's via AP) /
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NEW YORK (AP) — A 1982 artwork by Jean-Michel Basquiat sold for a record $110.5 million at Sotheby’s auction of contemporary art Thursday night.

This undated photo provided by Sotheby’s shows Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Masterpiece “Untitled.” Sotheby’s said the sale of the artwork Thursday, May 18, 2017, in Manhattan was an auction record for the artist. It also set a record price for an American artist at auction. The 1982 painting depicts a face in the shape of a skull. (Sotheby’s via AP)

Sotheby’s said the sale of “Untitled” was an auction record for the artist. It also set a record price for an American artist at auction. The painting’s graffiti-like typography depicts a face in the shape of a skull.

The piece was purchased by noted Japanese collector and e-commerce entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa after a 10-minute bidding war.

Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat in 1985. (Lizzy Himmel via Associated Press)

“When I saw this painting, I was struck with so much excitement and gratitude for my love of art,” said Maezawa, who plans to display it in his museum in Chiba, Japan after loaning it to institutions and exhibitions around the world.

“Untitled” was virtually unknown before it was unveiled at Sotheby’s weeks ago. The auction house said it remained in the same private collection since it was bought at auction in 1984 for $19,000.

The previous auction record for a Basquiat work was set last May when “Untitled, 1982” sold for $57.3 million, also to Maezawa.

Basquiat died of a drug overdose in 1988 at age 27.

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