Basquiat’s US$31m Painting Up for Auction to Become the Most Valuable Western Art in Asia | Auctions | THE VALUE
Jean-Michel Basquiat’s seminal work Warrior is coming under pressure in Christie’s Hong Kong and is expected to fetch HKD 240-320 million ($ 31-41 million). If the realized price is within the estimated range, it will be the most expensive Western artwork in Asia, beating the record for an abstract painting by Gerhard Richter that sold for HK $ 214 million (US $ 27.7 million) last year .
The masterpiece will be auctioned on March 23rd as part of a retail sale that will take place in conjunction with the auction house’s London Sale Week in Hong Kong.
Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988) | Warrior, 1982
Acrylic, oil pen and spray paint on wooden board
Dimensions: 183×122 cm
Estimate: HK $ 240,000,000 – 320,000,000
The current lot, measuring 183 x 122 cm, was painted in 1982 during the height of Basquiat’s career, when his artistic language matured. The painting shows a brave warrior in full length, whose silver sword is drawn from its scabbard and whose piercing eyes are directed straight at the viewer.
The auction house describes the work as a “semi-autobiographical” piece. Being of Haitian and Puerto Rican descent, Basquiat was well aware of the lack of representation of the African American population in art history. With a lot of fighting energy, the powerful work confronts the problem of inequality in the socio-political environment.
Installation view of Warrior (2nd right), Akira Ikeda Gallery of Tokyo
Warrior last went under the hammer in 2012, realizing £ 5.6m (USD 8.7m). However, the pre-sale estimate is a nearly four-fold increase, bringing it up to $ 31 million to $ 41 million.
When asked if the estimate was ambitious, Jacky Ho, head of evening sales on 20./21. Century, Christie’s Asia Pacific: “Basquiat’s personal auction record rose from $ 26.4 million in 2012 to $ 110 million in 2020. The oil pen on paper is now $ 10.8 million. Asian collectors’ interest in Western works of art has increased since 2012. “
Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988), the most expensive American artist in history
While Basquiat never hesitated to explore the issues of race and African American culture, do the prevailing themes connect with their Asian counterparts just like Western collectors?
“Warrior speaks to many. From the eye-catching use of colors to the composition, the painting is of great intensity as Basquiat’s artistic output reached its full potential in 1982 when this stunning work was created. “Said Ho.” We believe that this particular work stands out the most in his 1981-1985 works and is well received by both Western and Asian collectors. It is also evidence of the everlasting sense of courage that really goes beyond time, especially when we are all warriors these days in the face of the pandemic, ”he said.
Another work of art by Basquiat, Irony of Negro Policeman, 1981, which is also about race
While many of Basquiat’s broadcasts are typically seen in London or New York salesrooms, Christie’s decided to bring the masterpiece to Hong Kong this time around. “The demand from blue-chip artists for stunning artwork has proven extremely resilient, especially among Asian collectors. Hong Kong is such a dynamic hub for the entire art market. Regardless of where a rare work of art is sold, it will eventually find its way back to Asia, ”said Ho.
The current record for the artist is a 1982 painting measuring 183.2 x 173 cm – slightly larger than Warrior, which was sold for $ 110.5 million in a 2017 Sotheby’s New York sale. The buyer was the Japanese billionaire fashion tycoon and art collector Yusaku Maezawa, who later took the blockbuster painting on a world tour.
Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, who acquired the painting of a skull for $ 110.5 million in 1982, once revealed his plan to take the phenomenal work to the moon as the first lunar tourist
Once sold, the present work will eclipse the record for an abstract painting by Richter from 1987 and become the most expensive Western work of art to be sold at auction in Asia.
The current top 3 are as follows:
- Gerhard Richter (b.1932) | Abstract Image (649-2), HK $ 214,631,000
- KAWS (born 1974) | THE KAWS ALBUM, HK $ 115,966,000
- David Hockney (born 1937) | 30 sunflowers, HK $ 114,827,000
All three current records were achieved at Sotheby’s auctions in Hong Kong in 2019 and 2020, which shows the strong desire of Asian collectors for Western works of art. Such quality work as this is typically backed up by a house or third party guarantee to reduce risk. While Christie’s didn’t provide much information about financial arrangements for Basquiat’s masterpiece at the time, the artwork is certainly the auction house’s hope of outperforming its rival, especially in the busy Hong Kong art market.
Gerhard Richter’s Abstract Painting (649-2) was sold in Sotheby’s Hong Kong in October 2020 for HK $ 215 million (US $ 27.7 million)
Jean-Michel Basquiat was first known for his spray-painted crowns and doodles on the streets of New York. He was a subversive graffiti artist and street poet until he rose to fame in the 1980s. Today he is considered the most expensive American artist. Together with the “Pope of Pop” Andy Warhol, the two renowned artists are not only influential in their time, but also connected on a personal level and have created several works together.
Auction house: Christie’s Hong Kong
Preview (by arrangement):
- New York | February 19-24, 2021
- Hong Kong | March 15-23, 2021
Sale: We Are All Warriors – The Basquiat Auction, Hong Kong
Sale date: March 23, 2021 | 10 p.m. HKT
Venue: 22 / F, Alexandra House, 18 Chater Road Central, Hong Kong