A Japanese billionaire has bought a painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat for $ 110.5 million, the highest ever price paid at auction for a work by an American artist.
It’s a spectacular increase from the last time the painting, “Untitled,” was sold — it fetched a mere $ 19,000 in 1984. For more than 30 years since then, the picture depicting a skull-like head has remained stashed away in a private collection.
The Japanese buyer, e-commerce tycoon Yusaku Maezawa, said he plans to loan the to institutions and exhibitions around the world before making it the centerpiece of his museum in his hometown of Chiba.
“I hope it brings as much joy to others as it does to me, and that this masterpiece by the 21-year-old Basquiat inspires our future generations,” he said in a statement.
The sale of the picture at Sotheby’s in New York puts it in an elite club: only 10 other works have sold for more than $ 100 million.
Painted by Basquiat in 1982, “Untitled” has now fetched the sixth highest price ever for a work of fine art. It tops the $ 105 million paid in 2013 for Andy Warhol’s “Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster).”
And it’s the first work made after 1980 to sell for more than $ 100 million.