A 1982 untitled painting by American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat has fetched a whopping USD 110.5 million at an auction here, making it the sixth most expensive artwork ever auctioned. “He is now in the same league as Francis Bacon and Pablo Picasso,” said Jeffrey Deitch, an expert on Basquiat. Only 10 other works have broken the USD 100 million mark till now. Basquiat’s ‘Untitled’ painting of a skull had been expected to sell for USD 60 million.
The painting, made using oil stick and spray paint, was sold by the auction house Sotheby’s to Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, ‘The New York Times’ reported. “I am happy to announce that I just won this masterpiece,” Maezawa said in an Instagram post. “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,” he said.
Basquiat’s painting set several other new records. It is the first by an African-American and the first work created since 1980 to make over USD 100 million. It is also the first work by any American artist to have joined the USD 100 million-plus club. Brooklyn-born Basquiat started as graffiti artist and became an ‘art collector darling’ in the span of mere seven years. He died at the age of 27 due to drug overdose in 1988.
Last year, Basquiat became the highest-grossing American artist at an auction, generating USD 171.5 million from 80 works.