The 5 most expensive works by Jean-Michel Basquiat ever sold at auction
Scandals and mind-boggling prices. Let’s find out together the 5 most expensive works of the artist!
The turbulent soul and the absolutely recognizable style have made Jean-Michel Basquiat one of the most beloved artists in the history of art. His works are characterized by images that are only apparently simple, inspired by African American, African, Aztec cultures and by Jean Dubuffet ‘s Art Brut . In 1988 the tragic event: he dies of an overdose, at the age of 27, an event that will feed the myth of the “tormented” artist and make him a worldwide phenomenon.
Basquiat is today one of the most appreciated and quoted artists on the art market and his works are sold for millions of dollars. Let’s find out together which are the 5 most expensive works by Basquiat ever sold at auction!
- Untitled, 1982 sold for $ 110.5 million
It is the most expensive Basquiat painting ever auctioned. The work, which sold in May 2017 at Sotheby’s New York Evening Contemporary Art Auction , fetched $ 110.5 million, far exceeding the estimated price of $ 60 million . The painting was bought by Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa , who had bought the artist’s second most expensive work just a year earlier. Upon sale, the painting became one of the 10 most expensive works of all time.
- Untitled (Devil), 1982 sold for $ 57.3 million
The work was sold by Christie’s New York in May 2016 for $ 57.3 million to Japanese collector Yusaku Maezawa. It is a painting considered an icon by Basquiat collectors because it presents the image of the devil, a subject taken up in several of the artist’s works. The sale by the collector Lindemann of Untitled (Devil) was a shrewd choice, as the Basquiat market at that time was experiencing a serious decline and this allowed to focus the auction’s attention on the single work.
- Dustheads, 1982 sold for $ 48.8 million
In May 2013, Dustheads was sold by Christie’s New York for $ 48.8 million. Two years after the auction, a New York Times investigation into money laundering revealed that the work had been sold to Malaysian financier Jho Low , who was later accused of embezzling funds belonging to a government-run company, by he used to indulge in a luxurious lifestyle. Additionally, the work was allegedly used by Low as collateral for a loan from Sotheby’s financial services division , but the proceeds from the loan were used to build a yacht. Low then defaulted on the loan, but a subsequent private sale restored the price to $ 35 million .
- Flexible, 1984 sold for $ 45.3 million
In May 2018, Phillips presented the Flexible work for auction with an estimate of approximately $ 20 million . The choice was dictated by the fact that, unlike many of Basquiat’s works, it is not a painting on canvas, but a support made up of fence strips. What helped reach a sum of $ 45.3 million was the image of a mythical king, a mysterious central figure who appears in Basquiat’s most treasured works.
- Warrior, 1982 sold for $ 41.9 million
The work, depicting a crowned subject wielding a weapon, was sold in March 2021 at Christie’s Hong Kong for $ 41.9 million to a buyer who was on a telephone call with contemporary art specialist Jacky Ho during the auction , thus surpassing Alex Rotter , client of the president of Christie’s New York .
Christie’s CEO Guillaume Cerutti confirmed Basquiat’s work being sold to an Asian buyer.
And you, would you like Basquiat’s works in your collection?
Photo Credits: JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT, NEW YORK, 1985. PHOTOGRAPH BY EVELYN HOFER/GETTY IMAGES.