NEW YORK CITY — “Tonight, Jean-Michel Basquiat entered the pantheon of artists whose works have commanded prices over $100 million, including Picasso, Giacometti, Bacon and Warhol,” commented Grégoire Billault, head of Sotheby’s contemporary art department in New York following the firm’s May 18 contemporary art evening auction.
The work was purchased for $110,487,500 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 Maezawa’s hometown of Chiba, Japan.
“This extraordinary canvas from 1982 has broken so many benchmarks – a record for any American artist at auction and for a work of art created post-1980, to name just two – but those of us lucky enough to have been in its presence will only remember it’s awesome power. To think that it was created by a virtually-unknown 21-year old is humbling. We are thrilled that it was purchased by Yusaku Maezawa for his planned museum so others will have a chance to experience its magic firsthand,” said Billault.
The overall sale totaled $319,199,000, above its $277.1 million high estimate. It was 96 percent sold by lot, marking the fourth consecutive contemporary art evening auction at Sotheby’s worldwide with a sell-through rate of more than 90 percent.
Besides Basquiat, artist records were set for Jonas Wood, Wolfgang Tillmans, Mira Schendel, Blinky Palermo, Takeo Yamaguchi and Keith Haring.
Watch for a complete report in an upcoming issue.