On Wednesday night at Phillips Auction House in New York, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s 1982 Untitled painting sold for a record-breaking $85 million. It was estimated to be worth around $70 million. The seller of Untitled, billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, originally purchased the painting at Christie’s in New York back in 2016 for $57.3 million.
At the time, it was the most expensive bid on a Basquiat work ever made at an auction. Maezawa yieled nearly a 50% return. He is a longstanding collector of Basquiat’s work. Maezawa broke his 2016 record by buying a black skull painting at Sotheby’s New York a year later for $110.5 million—making it the most expensive American painting ever sold.
Basquiat’s works have been privately sold for large sums of cash for years. In 2020, Citadel founder Ken Griffin reportedly paid more than $100 million for the artist’s 1982 painting Boy and Dog in a Johnnypump. Just last year, Basquiat’s 1983 painting, In This Case, sold for $93.1 million at Christie’s New York which made it the second-most expensive work sold at an auction.
Wednesday’s affair was 100 percent sold by lot and by value, making it a 90 percent increase over last year’s total. The sale of Basquiat’s work also helped to make it the most successful night of sales in the history of the company.
The auction house states Untitled is part of a series made by Basquiat in Modena, Italy, during a visit to dealer Emilio Mazzoli during the early 1980s. It was around this time Basquiat became a powerhouse in the art world.
Anna Weyant’s Buffet II (2021), María Berrío’s Burrow of the Yellow (2013) and Alexander Calder’s 39=50 (1959) also sold at the Phillips event that same evening.