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Jean-Michel Basquiat Painting Sells For A Cool $110.5 Million

May 19, 2017

I am thrilled by today’s art buzz – that Jean-Michel Basquiat‘s painting, “Untitled,” shown above, sold for $110.5 million at auction yesterday.

Ever since I watched the film, Basquiat, in the mid 90’s I have been a huge fan of this graffiti artist. I don’t know that I love his works of art as visual pieces, but I do love what I perceive as being the boundaries that he was pushing against. I love his work because they take me to the edges of a frontier.

Because his career spanned only seven years (he died of a drug overdose at age 27 – the mystical age at which so many brilliant talents are lost), there is a limited number of finished works by Basquiat. So, as his recognition increases, so does the value of these works.

What especially pleases me is that the 41 year-old, billionaire buyer, Yusaku Maezawa (who maintains an art collection that includes a Picasso and other Basquiat paintings), plans to build a museum in Japan that will house these works and keep them available for public viewing.

Basquiat’s work so impressed me that when I was writing Love’s Compass I used the influence of his work, observed through the main character, Liv, to describe a painting that her love interest had painted. “In the center of the room, lying flat on the floor was a large canvas. She estimated it to be six feet by nine feet. Studying it for several minutes made her think of what she’d learned of Jean-Michel Basquiat in a movie about his life, and Jackson Pollock through a book she’d borrowed from a friend. In shades of red, pink, yellow, and sky blue, the background was divided into uneven and irregular panes of color, suggestive of a Basquiat underlay. However, over this backdrop it looked as if Pollock had passed through the room, dripping and flicking paint from large saturated brushes, in three colors; black, red, and lime green. Where Basquiat’s signature skeletons and mock graffiti were absent, Pollock-like spattering and drizzling of paint, in perfect balance, though less dense, was present.”

Thank you Yusaku Maezawa for bringing into light, for all to see, a Basquiat painting that has not been viewed in nearly 30 years.

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