The evening sale of Post-war and Contemporary Art last night at Christie’s, New York, set an artist record for Jean-Michel Basquiat. The former drop-out who, after being banished from home by his father was forced to support himself by making t-shirts and postcards, and later became famous for his SAMO graffiti tags, who’s talents caught the eye of Andy Warhol was featured alongside Agnes Martin and Richard Prince in the auction, to have his 1982 untitled neo-expressionist painting realize a record-breaking US$57,300,000 / £39,606,300 /€50,109,300. This is quite a considerable margin compare to his previous most expensive work, Dust Heads, which sold in 2013 for $43,500,000.
The sale reportedly received bid from 39 countries, with the most competitive bidding from Asia, Europe and the USA. Brett Gorvy, Chairman and International Head of Post-War and Contemporary Art, remarked: “We are very proud of the record price achieved for Basquiat’s monumental portrait of the artist as devil at a time when top collectors are pursuing works of the very highest quality. This painting drew intense competition that dispelled questions of a market contraction. We are particularly happy that the work was acquired by a collector in Asia, demonstrating the global scope of the masterpiece market.”
Sara Friedlander, Vice President, Head of Evening Sale, Post-War and Contemporary Art, stated: “We built our sales this season to reflect the macro environment, providing an ideal balance that suits an array of collecting tastes. Tonight’s success is the result of a tightly edited sale with top quality works, which were extremely fresh to the marketplace. 84% of the lots had never been sold at auction, and of the 10 works that had been sold, only 4 had been offered over the past 10 years. We are very pleased to see collectors gravitate to a broad spectrum of art, spanning from masterpiece quality works, including Rothko’s No. 17, to artists who are quickly rising within the auction market. One such example is Kerry James Marshall, whose Plunge, captivated the imagination of so many collectors and set a world auction record for the artist.”