Billionaire Wants $70 Million For Basquiat Painting

Japanese billionaire and art collector Yusaku Maezawa is trying to sell a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting at auction for a hefty $70 million. Maezawa bought the Basquiat in 2016 for $57.3 million and says that he’s selling the piece because Basquiat is “besting” Andy Warhol right now and his belief that works by the artist need to be shared.

Maezawa picked up the painting, known as Untitled, 1982, during a 2016 auction by Christie’s. It was part of an exhaustive art-buying spree that saw the art collector drop almost $100 million.

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Basquiat was an American neo-expressionist painter who rose to prominence in the 1980s, he enjoyed great acclaim in the art world before his early death in 1988, when he was only 27-years-old.

Coming in at 8-by-16 feet, Untitled, 1982 is one of Basquiat’s largest canvases. The images adorning the canvas feature a warm burst of colors deliberately brushed around a devilish-looking character with horns. It was one of many paintings he released in 1982.

“It’s the pinnacle year of Basquiat, 1982, and one of the largest paintings he did, that is filled with drips and Abstract Expressionist gestures,” says Jean-Paul Engelen, America’s President of Phillips who will run the auction. “The imagery reveals the artist balancing becoming a kind of rock star given his background and environment… seeing the other side of the coin to fame and success.”

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“He’s besting Andy Warhol for popularity now,” Mr. Engelen said. “Young people and classic collectors relate to him.”

If the painting sells for the $70 million asking price, it will continue to rank as the second most expensive piece from Basquiat’s body of work. The most expensive is another Untitled, 1982, painting that was also purchased by Maezawa for $110.5 million at Sotheby’s in May 2017. The sale set a record for the most expensive painting ever by an American artist.

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Maezawa, who is worth $2 billion, made his fortune by founding the Japanese retail giant Zozotown in 2014. In 2012 he established the Contemporary Art Foundation in Tokyo.

Maezawa said in a news release that he is selling Untitled, 1982, out of a belief that “art collections are something that should always continue to grow and evolve as the owner does.”

“I also believe that it should be shared so that it can be a part of everyone’s lives,” he concluded.

Source: Barrons, New York Times


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