Record price for Jean-Michel Basquiat painting

9761 Basquiat, Untitled HIGH RES

Last night in New York, Sotheby’s set an auction record for Jean-Michel Basquiat when Untitled, a masterpiece from 1982, sold for $110,487,500 million in the Contemporary Art Evening Auction.  The price well exceeded the previous record for the artist, as well as the pre-sale estimate of $60 million and was achieved after a 10-minute contest between multiple bidders.  The work was purchased by noted collector and entrepreneur, Yusaku Maezawa, the founder of e-commerce giant, Start Today, and ZOZOTOWN, the virtual mall on Japan’s largest fashion e-commerce site. The painting will eventually be housed in a museum based in Mr. Maezawa’s hometown of Chiba, Japan.

Mr. Maezawa, who announced his purchase earlier this evening via Instagram (@yusaku2020) and Twitter (@yousuck2020), commented later to Sotheby’s:  “When I saw 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 around the world – regardless of age or background or whether they are a collector or not.  One day the painting will be a centerpiece of my museum in my hometown Chiba, but before then I wish to loan this piece, which has been unseen by the public for more than 30 years, to institutions and exhibitions around the world.  I hope it brings as much joy to others as it does to me, and that this masterpiece by the 21-year-old Basquiat inspires our future generations.”

Untitled by Jean-Michel Basquiat is an important canvas created by the artist in 1982.  While his career was still at an early stage, Untitled is rich with imagery now synonymous with the artist such as the crown and graffiti-like typography sprawling across the canvas.  Before being unveiled at Sotheby’s just weeks ago, ‘Untitled’ was virtually unknown, having remained in the same private collection since it was purchased at auction in 1984 for $19,000.