Early Basquiat painting expected to top auction record at Christie's

An early painting from Jean-Michel Basquiat is hoping to exceed the artist's auction record when it sells at Christie's on November 14 in New York.

Jean-Michel Basquiat Untitled 1981 world auction record Christie's
The previous record holder for Basquiat's work at auction, sold in June 2012

The current record for Basquiat's work was set only in June this year, when Christie's sold an untitled 1981 piece for $20.1m in London. The sale represented a 23.3% increase in value from the previous record of $16.3m, which was set in May 2012.

As the market for Basquiat's work continues to gain momentum, even simple sketches from the artist are seeing impressive results at auction. Earlier this month, a brief drawing on lined paper came in 260% above estimate at $18,000.

The piece in Christie's auction, another untitled offering from 1981, has been held by a private collection for two decades and is seen as a highly important representation of Basquiat's early work. It has featured in almost all of the major Basquiat exhibitions and will sell with a $20m estimate.

Christie's Loic Gouzer explained: "Great works by Basquiat have become close to impossible to find in recent years, the market has been waiting a long time for a work of this caliber and freshness. Basquiat is increasingly being recognized as a grand master of post-war art alongside de Kooning, Warhol and Pollock, we expect it to set a new record."

"Basquiat created his best paintings at the beginning of his career.'Untitled 1981' unites all the elements of energy, freedom and boldness that one looks for in Basquiat," he added.

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