Basquiat Is Hotter Than Warhol—and Now a Billionaire Wants to Sell a 1982 Work for $70 Million

by AryanArtnews
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A millionaire who recently soared to the International Space Station said he would send one of his precious Jean-Michel Basquiat paintings to an auction this spring for an estimated $ 70 million. This move not only suggests a whimsical change in the world’s wealthiest people, but also emphasizes the continued strength of the art market as a whole.

Yusaku Maezawa was not well known in the art world when he paid Christie’s a record $ 57.3 million to the untitled 1982 Basquiat six years ago. Collectors enjoyed the victory by posting images to their Instagram accounts and shrugging the typical discretion exercised by some top buyers.

Fashion tycoon behind the e-commerce site Zozotown says he’s ready to resell his breakout Basquiat to boutique auctioneer Phillips to offer paintings in May in New York. I did. The 16-foot-wide piece is studded with shades of red and salmon and features a horned devilish appearance that suggests that the curator may be a conflicting self-portrait of a former New York graffiti artist. ..

The untitled 1982 work by Jean-Michel Basquiat is estimated at about $ 70 million and will be available at Philips in May.



In an email, a 46-year-old collector called the painting “overwhelmingly powerful yet melancholic,” adding that “at the same time it makes me feel euphoric and hopeless.”

The art market has a unique euphoria as collectors logged on to and participated in auctions around the world last year, bidding on everything from luxury goods to vintage sports cars to NFTs. increase. Last year, Philips recorded sales of $ 1.2 billion, up 32% from its pre-pandemic 2019 total. According to dealers, it is unclear how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will affect collectors’ enthusiasm for good art.

On Monday, CEO Stephen Brooks said that Philips, owned by Russian luxury retailer Mercury Group, made no explicit mention of Russia or President Vladimir Putin, saying, “Philips reveals the invasion of Ukraine. I blame you. ”

As a sign of confidence, Phillips gave Basquiat an estimated $ 70 million in history.

This move is unlikely to break Basquiat’s $ 115 million record held by Maezawa’s 2017 untitled blue work in 1982. Still, the next red example could provide a fresh test of the global appeal of the 1980s, a New York artist known for his enthusiastic self-portraits covered in witty social criticism. .. Last year, four other examples by Basquiat were sold at auction for more than $ 40 million each. This includes the red-colored image “In This Case” with a head over $ 93.1 million. Philips US President Jean-Paul Engelen said another example by him was personally sold for more than $ 100 million.

Jean-Michel Basquiat’s untitled blue work purchased by Yusaku Maezawa for $ 115 million.


Johannes Schmitt-Tegge / DPA / ZUMA Press

“He is now defeating Andy Warhol because of his popularity,” Engelen said. “Youth and classic collectors are involved with him.”

For Mr. Maezawa, the upcoming sale means one lap. Now widely known for his collection of fine works by artists such as Brice Marden, Mark Grotjahn and Yoshitomo Nara, when he won the work he is currently reselling, he was at the top of the art world. It was virtually unknown among them.

A year after purchasing the red work, Maezawa reset Basquiat’s record when he purchased the untitled blue portrait, which is widely regarded as the star of the collection. He exhibits it in museums from Brooklyn to Seattle and regularly references it in his social media feeds. According to his Instagram, one year his friend even made a blue cake version of it for his birthday.

The fate of his red Basquiat was a mystery in the years in between. Collectors said he had exhibited both Basquiat in his home or office for many years, but for now he decided that one was enough. He recently said he was attracted to collecting outdoor sculptures. He will be exhibiting with his blue Basquiat at a Japanese museum he is aiming to open someday.

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As for why he is now auctioning his red example, he says, “I believe that art collections should always grow and evolve like their owners, so farewell to” untitled “is related to that. I was doing it. ”

For Philips, the red job will probably benefit. Engelen said he plans to preview his work at Philips showrooms in London, Taipei and Los Angeles in the coming months. But he said he had already found an anonymous third-party investor who was willing to buy the 1982 red work for a private price if no one else was willing to sell.

And as another sign that cryptocurrencies have become mainstream in the art market, Mr. Maezawa agreed to accept cryptocurrencies as payments. This makes Basquiat one of the most expensive paintings to participate in auctions that are willing to trade using alternative currencies.

Write a letter to Kelly Crow at [email protected]

Correction and amplification
Yusaku Maezawa previously ran e-commerce retailer Zozotown. The photo captions in earlier versions of this article implied that he still runs the company. (Corrected on February 28)

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