Basquiat Piece Sells for Record-Breaking $110 Million

Design News Basquiat

A precedent has been set for the purchasing of Jean-Michel Basquiat works that places him with the likes of Pablo Picasso and Edvard Munch. Yesterday, a 1982 painting of his sold for a record amount of $110.5 million at Sotheby’s, which is just plain nuts.

It only took 10 minutes for Japanese art collector Yusaku Maezawa to buy “Untitled.” Most people take longer showers. “When I first encountered this painting, I was struck with so much excitement and gratitude for my love of art,” said Maezawa in a statement. “I want to share that experience with as many people as possible.”

The sale of “Untitled” set three records: the highest sale for an American artist, the highest sale for an African-American artist and the first work created after 1980 to break the $100-million mark. Maezawa also purchased Basquiat’s previously highest-selling piece; he bought “Untitled, 1982” for $57.3 million in May of last year.

Like his artwork, the late Basquiat—who would now be 56—remains mostly an enigma. He played in a noise-rock band. He was in a Blondie music video as a DJ. Hell, he even dated Madonna. His air of mystery is what makes his work so captivating—and so damn expensive.

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