An impressive new record was set with the $57.3 million sale of an untitled 1982 painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat, completed when the artist was only 22 years old. The work surpassed an estimate only described by the press release as “in excess of $40 million,” and sold to an Asian buyer, in a record for the artist at auction. Basquiat’s previous high mark was set by Christie’s in May 2013 with a painting from the same year titled Dustheads.
“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 international head of post-war and Contemporary Brett Gorvy.
The Basquiat buyer was revealed by the house to be 40-year-old Japanese businessman Yusaku Maezawa, founder of the online fashion retailer Zozotown and the Tokyo-based organization Contemporary Art Foundation. Mr. Maezawa is valued at $2.7 billion and currently ranked Japan’s 17th richest person, according toForbes.
“When I encountered the work at the Christie’s New York preview, I had an immediate visceral connection it. Generationally, I relate to Basquiat’s culture and the essence of his life story,” said Mr. Maezawa in a statement. “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.”