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Basquiat painting fetches record $110.5M at New York auction
20 May 2017, 09:30 | Anna Nguyen
Yusaku Maezawa is one of the richest men in Japan, and he just spent $110.5 million on a Jean-Michel Basquiatpainting, the highest price for a piece of artwork by an American artist.
The oil-stick-and-spray-paint work went to Japanese e-commerce billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, following a ten-minute bidding war with dealer Nicholas Maclean. The investor says he will eventually display it in his museum in Tokyo.
Basquiat died several years after creating the work that sold Thursday, overdosing on heroin in 1988 at the age of 27.
Maezawa surpassed the benchmark he set for Basquiat's art with last year's $57.3 million acquisition of another of his 1982 "Untitled" paintings.
A little background on the mysterious Maezawa: The 41-year old entrepreneur began his career in the music industry in the 1990s when he founded Start Today Co., an import business which sold CDs and vinyl.
The painting, described as "Raw, uncensored, and fiercely magnificent" and an "incomparable masterwork" by Sotheby's, was acquired by Jerry and Emily Spiegel for $19,000 in 1984, and the couple kept it in their private collection and never exhibited it.
The auction followed Phillips evening sale of 20th Century & Contemporary Art which concluded shortly before the Sotheby's event kicked off. Phillips' auction raised $110.3m (£85.5m) with all 37 lots finding buyers.
"When I saw this painting, I was struck with so much excitement and gratitude for my love of art", he said in a statement.
"I think it just speaks about the talent of this guy", said Gregoire Billault, Sotheby's head of contemporary art.
Other big sales at the event included Roy Lichtenstein's Nude Sunbathing, which sold for $24 million, and Gerhard Richter's Abstraktes Bild, which sold for $15.4 million.
Bidding at the iconic Sotheby's auction house lasted 10 mins, with Maezawa winning it over the phone. His "The Women of Algiers (Version 0)" fetched $179.4m at Christie's in NY in 2015.
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