Published: Sun, May 21, 2017
Culture | By Stewart Greene

Baquiat's 'Untitled' Sells for Record $110.5 Million

Baquiat's 'Untitled' Sells for Record $110.5 Million

Jean-Michel Basquiat's untitled painting of a skull is displayed behind an official with Sotheby's, which offered the media a preview earlier this month.

A week ago, a 1982 Basquiat self-portrait that had been featured in a number of major retrospectives sold for $57.3 million at a Christie's auction in NY.

"I remember astounding the art world back in 1980s when I set an auction record for Basquiat at $99,000", said Jeffrey Deitch, an art dealer who was the artist's friend and champion.

That said, the skull painting's price-not its new owner-is what's making headlines.

"Untitled" provoked a tense 10-minute bidding war in the room and on the telephone, before ultimately going to Maezawa via telephone.

According to CNNMoney, Maezawa said that he intends to loan his newest possession out for exhibitions worldwide, and then make it the centerpiece of his art museum in Chiba, his hometown. It also set a record price for an American artist at auction.

Basquiat died four years later years later of a heroin overdose, aged 27, but today's price puts him into a pantheon of greats including Andy Warhol and Pablo Picasso.

Loud cheers and applause greeted the conclusion of the sale, which nearly doubled the previous Basquiat record of US$57 million, set for a self-portrait snapped up by a Japanese billionaire at Sotheby's past year. Maezawa is also the founder of Japan's large online fashion mall, Zozotown.

The canvas had been virtually unseen in public since being bought in 1984 for US$19,000.

The amount it sold for blew away the auction house's pre-sale estimate of $60 million.

The Picasso piece sold at Christie's in NY in 2015.

"He's bringing something never seen before", Billaut said.

"I am happy to announce that I just won this masterpiece", Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa said in an Instagram post revealing his identity as the man who purchased the work. The winning bid placed over the phone by Yuki Terase, a Japanese business developer for Sotheby's.

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