Basquiat painting sells in New York for $93.1 million

NEW YORK: Jean-Michel Basquiat’s painting “In this Case” sold for $93.1 millions (RM 384.1 million) in an auction Tuesday at Christie’s in New York, the second-highest price paid for a work by the late artist.

The 1983 painting, which depicts a skull on a red background, sold for $81 million (RM 334.2 million), but with fees and commissions the final price came to $93.1 million (RM 384.1 million), well above the estimate of $50 million (RM 206.3 million) set by Christie’s.

It was another skull, “Untitled”, that set the record for the most expensive by Basquiat (1960-1988), which went for $110.5 million (RM 455.9 million) in May 2017 at Sotheby’s in New York.

“In This Case” reprises two dominant themes in Basquiat’s work, the anatomy and the representation of African-American characters.

In a sign of Basquiat’s growing status in the art world, the same canvas was sold in November 2002 for just $999,500 (RM 4.1 million), barely more than a hundredth of the price paid on Tuesday.

With the exception of New York-based Basquiat, African American painters have long been undervalued by collectors and underrepresented in museums.

In recent years, the market has started a process of re-evaluating many of them. On Tuesday, Christie’s had presented several Black artists as part of its big spring sale.

A Nina Chanel Abney work sold for $990,000 (RM 4 million), a Jordan Casteel went for $687,500 (RM 2.8 million) and a Rashid Johnson fetched $1.95 million (RM 8 million).

A work by British artist Lynette Yiadom-Boakye was sold for $1.95 million (RM 8 million) and a piece by Ghanaian sculptor El Anatsui went under the hammer for $1.95 million (RM 8 million), all of them setting new records in the sale. — AFP