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Jean-Michel
Basquiat

Despite a short-lived career, Jean-Michel Basquiat's meteoric rise to fame in the 1980s has produced works spanning everything from Ancient Egyptian iconography to the contemporary African-American experience. If you are looking to buy or sell a Basquiat original print or edition, browse artwork available from our network and enquire to speak to the team. We offer free and confidential valuations and market advice on any Basquiat print, with zero obligation to sell.

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Jean-Michel Basquiat Value & Data Trends

Track historical trends, sale results and forecast value in the Jean-Michel Basquiat Print Market.
For further data analysis or expert commentary please contact [email protected].

15%
Growth (AAGR 5 years)
21
Sales (12 Months)
£650,737
Sales value (12 Months)
£30,987
Avg Price paid (12 months)

Jean-Michel Basquiat print index (5 years)

Curated index derived from public auction data (inc Sothebys, Christies and Bonhams).

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Biography

Jean-Michel Basquiat’s art is explosive - defined by a visual style that combines childlike imagery with issues of race, culture and celebrity. Though his career was short, Basquiat’s painterly style, exploration of race and culture, and standout childlike iconography has secured his status as one of the most successful street artists and African American painters of the 20th Century.

Born in 1960 to Haitian and Puerto Rican parents, Basquiat was raised in the Boerum Hill area of Brooklyn and showed promise in his artistic talent from an early age. His mother encouraged him to draw and paint, and together they visited many museum exhibitions in New York. At the age of six, the young Basquiat was even enrolled as a Junior Member of the Brooklyn Museum.

Until the age of 15, when he decided to run away from home for the first time, Basquiat attended school sporadically and eventually left his father’s home at age 17 to be adopted by family friends.

All of Basquiat’s art - and success - was marked by his interest in graffiti. Still in high school, Basquiat began creating graffiti projects with his high school friend Al Diaz under the name SAMO. Throughout the late 1970s the pair painted cryptic epigrams across Manhattan’s Lower East side, phrases such 'As if the oppressor was never a child As if heroin was never a flower.'

Despite the artist’s later reflection that SAMO was 'just teenage stuff,' a 1978 article on the duo in the Village Voice and the Soho Times saw SAMO thrust into the spotlight. This allowed Basquiat to enter the circles of avant-garde artists and celebrities such as Andy Warhol and Keith Haring, both of whom expressed a real interest in the quippy, yet critical tone of SAMO and Basquiat’s solo work.

In 1981, Mudd Club co-founder Diego Cortez hung Basquiat’s work in the 'New York/New Wave' show at MOMA, which propelled the artist to fame despite being known at the time largely for his street art. From that moment, Basquiat's career sky-rocketed. Following the attention he gained from publications related to this show, Basquiat sold ten paintings to Italian art dealer Emilio Mazzoli that same year. He also sold his first painting Cadillac Moon (1981) to Blondie singer Debbie Harry for $200 and also starred in the video for their song 'Rapture'. In 1982 he became the youngest artist ever (aged only 21) to take part in Documenta in Kassel, Germany, and in 1983 he was the youngest artist to exhibit in the Whitney Biennial exhibition of Contemporary Art at 22. Despite his premature death at 27, Basquiat's work changed forever the course of art history.

    Untitled by Jean-Michel Basquiat

    Untitled © Jean-Michel Basquiat 1982

    1. £85.2M for Jean-Michel Basquiat's Untitled, 1982

    On 8 May 1984, New York collectors Jerry and Emily Spiegel bought Basquiat’s Untitled from Christie’s for US$19,000. Fast forward to 18 May 2017, the painting was once again at auction – almost 33 years to the day of the previous sale – this time at Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Auction.

    Bidding started at US$57 million and, after more than 10 minutes of intense back-and-forth over the telephones, Untitled sold for US$110.5 million – setting a new record price for Basquiat and for American artists. The buyer was billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, who also snapped up another masterpiece by Basquiat at Christie’s a year earlier. “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 Japanese collector wrote on Instagram after the sale.

    Only 10 other works had broken the US$100 million mark at the time. Untitled remains the most expensive artwork by Basquiat sold at auction.

    Untitled by Jean-Michel Basquiat

    Untitled © Jean-Michel Basquiat 1982

    2. £68.6M for Jean-Michel Basquiat's Untitled, 1982

    Back at auction in 2022, Untitled managed to beat the artist's own record, selling for US$85 million at Phillips in May. The arresting, large-scale work sits among Basquiat's most iconic: exemplifying his expressive brushstrokes as well as his including his mask motif.

    In this case by Jean-Michel Basquiat

    image © Christie's / In this case © Basquiat 1983

    3. £65.7M for Jean-Michel Basquiat's In this Case

    Curator Fred Hoffman wrote that what drew Basquiat to depicting the human form was ‘his fascination with the face as a passageway from exterior physical presence into the hidden realities of man’s psychological and mental realms.” The artist's monumental work In This Case is a testament to this.

    Painted when Basquiat was just 22, there is a sense of immediacy and urgency here, amplified by the deep palette, jagged linework and overlapping sketches that have become so associated with the artist's style. In this Case recently sold for £65.7million at Christie’s New York on May 11th 2021.

    Untitled by Jean-Michel Basquiat

    Untitled © Jean-Michel Basquiat 1982