Jean-Michel Basquiat untitled artwork to beat $16.3m record?

An untitled work by Jean-Michel Basquiat is being tipped to break the US artist's world record when it comes to auction in London on June 27.

Produced in 1981, Basquiat's standout year, auctioneer Christie's describes it as "one of the artist's earliest masterpieces, marrying the gritty urbanism of his street graffiti with his raw and guttural symbolism".

The acrylic, oilstick and spray paint on canvas was previously owned by the Israel Museum, before changing hands at Sotheby's for $14.6m in 2007, setting a record for the artist in the process.

Basquiat died aged just 27

That record rose by 11.7% last month, when another untitled work sold for $16.3m.

These are heady times for those who have previously invested in the US graffiti/Neo-expressionist artist. This month's sale could further confirm that Jean-Michel Basquiat is a bona fide big hitter in the art world. The work is estimated at $20m.

Brett Gorvy, Christie's chairman and international head of Post-War and Contemporary art, commented: "This outstanding 'self-portrait' is a tour de force in Basquiat's short career and was executed before his recognition and success.

"The art market has never been this strong, and the demand for masterpieces like this work is global."

Basquiat died in 1988 aged just 27 from a heroin overdose. His early death has helped boost the attraction and mystique of his works with the art-buying public, as has a public endorsement by U2.

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