Jean-Michel Basquiat work could hit $60m

A major work by Jean-Michel Basquiat will star in a sale of contemporary art at Sotheby’s New York on May 18.

The monumental untitled canvas dates to 1982 and has been held in a private collection since 1984.

Basquiat Sothebys record

Basuiat's work from the early 1980s is in high demand 

Basquiat (1960-1988) was then a relative unknown and the buyer picked it up for just $19,000.

Sotheby’s now expects the work to reach $60m, which would make it the most valuable Basquiat ever sold (his record was set at $57.2m last year).    

Basquiat’s price point has advanced dramatically over the past five years as demand for his work has grown. In 2012 his record stood at $20m, indicating the speed with which this growth has taken place.

As a result, the number of important works on the market has increased dramatically. The present lot is considered among the best. 

Buyers are particularly keen on works from the early 1980s, when Basquiat was still essentially a street artist transplanted into the galleries of New York.  

Gregoire Billault, head of contemporary art at Sotheby’s New York, comments: “It is an enormous pleasure to bring a Basquiat of this magnitude to the market.

“The scale, subject matter, date and freshness, combined with recent record prices and increased demand for the artist’s work, make May the ideal time to present a masterpiece of this caliber – a truly outstanding achievement of recent art history – to the market.”

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