At a Sotheby's auction in #New York on Thursday, a piece of Jean-Michael Basquiat's art entitled, "Untitled" (1984) sold for $110.5 million USD. The painting was purchased by Japanese e-commerce tycoon Yusaku Maezawa. The painting depicts a skull on a blue background; any viewer of the painting can notice the jarring style of the piece, clearly influenced by Basquiat's previous works of graffiti.

The lofty price tag on the work means that it is only the 10th piece to sell for over $100 million, the first to painting created after 1980 to hold that distinction. Pre-auction estimates placed a price tag of $60 million on the work.

Advertisements
Advertisements

Art, especially high-end, expensive pieces seem to have made a resurgence in popularity as many millionaires and billionaires from Europe and Asia have recently become buyers of pieces such as the Pink Star Diamond.

Maezawa plans museum in hometown

The Japanese business mogul was one of at least 4 bidders, both in the auction room and on the phones, who were vying for "Untitled." Shortly after bidding closed on the piece Maezawa took to the internet to share his joy in winning the piece.

Maezawa is not only a lover and collector of contemporary art, but also the founder of the Contemporary Art Foundation which strives to promote young contemporary artist and musicians by helping them develop their skills.

This latest purchase isn't the Japanese tycoon's first Basquiat painting either. A year ago he set the previous record for a Basquiat piece when he purchased another "Untitled" work for a mere $57.3 million at Christie's auction house.

Advertisements

Yusaku has big plans for this "Untitled" piece. After being kept out of the public eye for the past 30 years (since it's previous sale for $19,000) Maezawa wishes to loan out the striking painting to museums and art houses around the world so a whole new generation can appreciate it. “I hope it brings as much joy to others as it does to me, and that this masterpiece by the 21-year-old Basquiat inspires our future generations.” After being shared around the world, the work is set to become the centrepiece of Maezawa's museum in his hometown of Chiba, Japan.

Who was Jean-Michael Basquiat?

Sharing both Haitian and Puerto Rican decent, Basquiat was an influential artist who emerged from Brooklyn, New York in the 1980s. He used his racial identity and personal torments as inspiration for his impressionist works. He began as a graffiti artist who transitioned paintings in the span of 7 years.

His works often show raw pain and emotions, which could have been brought to the forefront as a result of his heavy drug use. Many people connect to his work because he put on display America's racism and oppression.

Basquiat tragically died of a heroin overdose in 1988. #Piece Of Art