Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Science | By Cecil Little

Basquiat painting fetches record $110.5M at New York auction

Basquiat painting fetches record $110.5M at New York auction

The previous record for Basquiat's work at auction was the $57.3 million paid a year ago at a Christie's NY sale for another untitled painting from 1982, from the collection of Adam Lindemann. It was previously sold at Christie's for $19,000 in May 1984.

"When I saw this painting, I was struck with so much excitement and gratitude for my love of art", he said.

Basquiat's works were known for their focus on African-American issues, wealth versus poverty, integration versus segregation, and inner versus outer experience.

Basquiat, born in Brooklyn to Haitian and Puerto Rican parents died in 1988 of an overdose at age 27 after a fleeting eight-year career.

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Only two of the 50 works on offer went unsold on Thursday, the last night of key spring sales for powerhouses Sotheby's and rival Christie's.

Loud cheers greeted the purchase, which also doubled the price paid for a previous Basquiat at $57 million past year.

The canvas was bought by entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa, founder of e-commerce giant Start Today, after a protracted, old-school bidding war that included four participants beyond the $60 million pre-sale estimate.

The subject of much of Basquiat's work - ordeals endured by blacks in America - is finding renewed resonance in the wake of nationwide U.S. protests since 2014 about the shootings of unarmed black men by police.

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"I've never seen so much emotion in such a painting", said Sotherby's head of contemporary art Gregoire Billault.

Rival auction house Christie's sold Basquiat's La Hara - a 1981 acrylic and oil-stick of an angry-looking NY police officer - for US$35 million on Wednesday, eclipsing its US$22-28 million estimate.

The oilstick, acrylic and spray-painted piece, described by Sotheby's as "raw, uncensored and fiercely magnificent", topped the record $105.4 million paid in November 2013 for an American painting - Basquiat cohort Andy Warhol's 1963 "Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster)". That piece also sold to Maezawa.

Sotheby's said 65 percent of works in Thursday's sale made their auction debut and almost 75 percent for the first time in 20 years.

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