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Basquiat painting sets auction record with $110.5 million sale

William E. Ketchum III

 // May 19, 2017

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Legendary painter and graffiti artist Jean-Michael Basquiat's impact will live on forever in terms of influence on art and pop culture, but this week his work gained permanence in another way: a place in the record books.

Soethby's sold an untitled 1982 Basquiat painting for $110 million - the highest amount that an American artist's painting has ever sold for at an auction. It breaks the record of $105.4 million paid for Andy Warhol's "Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster)" four years ago, according to Wall Street Journal. It is also the highest price at an auction for any artwork after the year 1980.

New York Times reports that the piece originally sold for $19,000 in 1984 to a pair of art collectors, Jerry and Emily Spiegel. Before this week's auction, the piece was originally expected to sell for about $60 million. Yusaku Maezawa, a Tokyo e-commerce retailer, made the winning bid anonymously via the telephone.

Basquiat was a Brooklyn graffiti artist and painter who was active in the 1970s and 1980s. He died in 1988 at age 27 from a heroin overdose, but he's become one of the most respected and referenced artists of all time in the decades since his death. He's a particularly revered figure in hip-hop: Jay Z, Kanye West, A$AP Rocky, J. Cole, Danny Brown and Killer Mike have all namedropped Basquiat in their lyrics, with Jay Z and Swizz Beatz owning some of his work.

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