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Basquiat Painting Fetches Record $110.5M at New York Auction

19 May 2017

A major painting by the NY artist Jean-Michel Basquiat has sold at Sotheby's for an unprecedented $110.5m (£85.4m).This doubles the artist's record for the most expensive price paid for his work.

Basquiat's works were known for their focus on African-American issues, wealth versus poverty, integration versus segregation, and inner versus outer experience.

The untitled painting depicting a human skull was executed in oil stick, acrylic and spray paint.

The piece was purchased by noted Japanese collector and e-commerce entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa after a 10-minute bidding war.

He plans to loan the painting to institutions and exhibitions around the world before making it the centerpiece of a museum he plans to open in his hometown of Chiba.

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Cheers and applause greeted the sale, which nearly doubled the previous Basquiat auction record of $57 million.

The Picasso piece sold at Christie's in NY in 2015. Only 10 other works have broken the $100 million mark.

"I am happy to announce that I just won this masterpiece", Maezawa wrote on Instagram alongside a picture of himself with the picture.

"When I saw this painting, I was struck with so much excitement and gratitude for my love of art", said Maezawa.

The auction, held at Sotheby's in NY on Wednesday, drew gasps from the crowd as the price "sailed past" the expected $US60 million mark. "He's bringing something never seen before".

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The New York Times reports it was also the record price for any American artist, as well as for any black artist. In total, $319.2million was spent on 50 lot items.

Sotheby's concludes its week of sales on Friday.

At least 14 works from the Brooklyn-born artist were on sale at Christie's and Sotheby's this week.

It was described by the auction house as: 'raw, uncensored, and fiercely magnificent. "Untitled" is the first work made after 1980 to sell for more than $100 million and fetched the sixth highest price ever for a work of fine art. His "The Women of Algiers (Version 0)" fetched $179.4 million at Christie's in NY in 2015.

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Basquiat Painting Fetches Record $110.5M at New York Auction