Thanks to a Japanese billionaire, Jean-Michel Basquiat just rose to exclusive ranks among artists both living and dead.
Basquiat, the iconic New York City painter who died of a heroin overdose at his art studio at age 27, would undoubtedly be amazed that his 1982 piece featuring a colorful skull was auctioned for a record $110.5 million at Sotheby’s, making it the sixth most expensive painting ever sold at auction.
To top it off, the mega-purchase also sets a record for artwork by any American artist, including Andy Warhol.
Born of Haitian and Puerto Rican heritage, Basquait joins a small $100 million-plus artist club — only 10 other works have shattered the $100 million ceiling at auction. “He’s now in the same league as Francis Bacon and Pablo Picasso,” reported Jeffrey Deitch, a Sotheby’s dealer and expert on Basquiat..
Placing his winning bid over the phone, a representative for Japanese billionaire, Yusaku Maezawa, faced competition from art dealer Nicholas Maclean (whose client had previously purchased a Basquait for a mere $57.3 milliion in 2016) and others. As the crowd gasped in awe, in the end, it was Maezawa holding the $110.5 million prize.
Larry Warsh, a veteran Basquiat collector put it this way, “I almost had to pinch myself to see if I was awake, I applaud the compulsion of someone to buy such an iconic and important work.”