The art world just witnessed a groundbreaking auction record earlier last May when an untitled piece by Jean-Michel Basquiat sold at Christie’s for $57.3-M.
Given Sotheby’s (NYSE:BID) “limited” Impressionist and Modern art sale the night before, with 21 out of 62 lots left unsold, there were some whispers that the art market is cooling.
But Christie’s had a much better night, with 52 out of 60 lots on offer sold. With premiums, their evening sale totaled $318.4-M within pre-sale estimates of $285.6-398.2-M.
According to Vice President and head of evening sale, Sara Friedlander, 84% of the works were put up for auction for the 1st time.
“Enormous freshness and quality prevailed,” said Ms. Friedlander.
The Y 1982 painting was completed when Basquiat was 22 anni, and its sale far surpassed previous estimates from a press release that the piece would fetch an “excess of $40-M”.
The painting was purchased by Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa, 40 anni, an avid fine art collector. Mr. Maezawa founded the Tokyo-based Contemporary Art Foundation in Y 2012, operating under the aim of “supporting young artists as a pillar of the next generation of contemporary art.”
Forbes ranks Mr. Maezawa Japan’s 17th richest person with $2.7-B
“When I encountered the work at the Christie’s New York preview, I had an immediate visceral connection it,” said Mr. Maezawa. “Generationally, I relate to Basquiat’s culture and the essence of his life story. Rather than monetary or investment value, I felt I had a personal responsibility to take care of this masterpiece and preserve it for the next generation.”
The last time a Basquiat work reached an auction high was in May 2013, where he sold a painting titled Dustheads for $48.8-M.
“It’s a tribute to this painting that we’re making records at a time when we’re not expected to be making them,” said Brett Gorvy, international head of Post-War and Contemporary Art.
In spite of whispers that a choppy Chinese economy is seriously slowing Asian buying, Ms. Friedlander describes the bidding from Asian clients, as very strong.
It appears that a heavy outreach in Asia has paid off. Christie’s reported that many of the works from that “good” night were flown to Shanghai for viewings.
Have a terrific weekend.
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