Painting by Haitian-Puerto Rican Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat Painting Sells for $41.7 Million Dollars & Becomes Most Expensive Western Art Sold in Asia
A 1982 painting by deceased Haitian-Puerto Rican artist Jean-Michel Basquiat sold for $41.9 million at Christie’s auction house in Hong Kong, earlier this month The New York Times reported. The piece titled “Warrior”. The auctioned painting depicts the struggles Black men have to endure in a world dominated by White people.
The British auction house said the amount paid for the painting was the highest for an artwork by a Western artist in Asia, that is actually not Basquiat’s most valuable piece of work. In 2017, his “Untitled” painting was purchased for $110 million by Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa at a Sotheby’s auction in New York.
Sales in the art industry have significantly taking a slump over the year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Christie’s was reportedly hopeful the inclusion of Basquiat’s artwork in the auction would help revitalize the art market.
“Basquiat is one of the strongest markets coming out of the pandemic,” Christophe van de Weghe, a dealer who specializes in Basquiat’s works, said in an interview “It’s worldwide. You can sell Basquiat, like Picasso, to someone in India or Kazakhstan or Mexico. You can have a 28-year-old spending millions on Basquiat and you can have a guy who is 85. He appeals to all kinds of people, from rappers to hedge-fund guys.”
Though deceased, Basquiat is an important and rising figure in popular global arts and culture. He was born on December 22, 1960, to a Haitian father and a mother of Puerto-Rican descent in Brooklyn.
Basquiat experienced a great deal at a young age; he was in a car accident that resulted in a splenectomy at age seven, his parents divorced at the same age; his mother, who first introduced him to art, was committed into a mental institution, and he dropped out of school by the age of 15. But within a few years, he went from being homeless and unemployed to selling his paintings for $25,000.
Although many people know him for his celebrity status, as he was friends with pop artiste Andy Warhol, wore Armani suits splattered with paint from his work, and dated Madonna, the painter’s work was political and has its own fanfare.
Basquiat was intentional and well versed in the social issues of his time. He once said, “the black person is the protagonist in most of my paintings. I realized that I didn’t see many paintings with black people in them.”
Basquiat died at the age of 27 from a heroin overdose but he lives forever through his art and the impact of his work and influence on American movements and pop culture.
The early end to Basquiat’s prolific and promising life has long meant that there is a limit to just how many of his works exist in circulation within the art world. At this Christie’s auction, three bidders fiercely competed for the painting until the auctioneer ultimately banged the auction house’s gavel. The final figure fetched far exceeded the $8.7 million that real estate mogul Aby Rosen paid for the work back in 2012. While Christie’s declined to publicly comment as to whether Rosen was the seller at today’s single-lot sale, the painting’s value implied as much.