Basquiat painting sells for record $110.5 million at auction

Jean-Michel Basquiat's 1982 painting "Untitled" -- on display at a media preview -- sold Thursday at Sotheby's New York auction of contemporary art for a record $110.5 million. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

May 19 (UPI) — A 1982 painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat sold Thursday for $110.5 million, the highest price paid at auction for a work by an American artist.

Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa purchased Basquiat’s painting “Untitled,” which first sold for $19,000 in 1984.

“I am happy to announce that I just won this masterpiece,” Maezawa said on Instagram. “When I first encountered this painting, I was struck with so much excitement and gratitude for my love of art. I want to share that experience with as many people as possible.”

The 41-year-old Japanese fashion entrepreneur set the previous record for a Basquiat piece, paying $57.3 million for a painting of a horned devil last year.

He plans to loan the painting to institutions and exhibitions around the world before making it the centerpiece of a museum he plans to open in his hometown of Chiba.

“I hope it brings as much joy to others as it does to me, and that this masterpiece by the 21-year-old Basquiat inspires our future generations,” Maezawa said in a statement.

Only 10 other works have sold for more than $100 million. “Untitled” is the first work made after 1980 to sell for more than $100 million and fetched the sixth-highest price ever for a work of fine art. It tops the $105 million paid in 2013 for Andy Warhol‘s “Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster).”

Basquiat, a native New Yorker, had been an artist for just seven years when he died in 1988 of a heroin overdose at 27.

“Breaking $100 million for a work which is that recent is definitely extraordinary,” said Gregoire Billault, head of contemporary art at Sotheby’s. “I think it just speaks about the talent of this guy. It’s just pure emotion. He’s bringing something never seen before.”


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