Sotheby’s New York Contemporary Art Evening Auction that was held on May 18 exceeded all expectations, raising almost $319.2 million from 50 lots initially estimated at $211 million, with only 2 lots remained unsold. The biggest surprise for the whole fine art market was the untitled work by Jean-Michel Basquiat, which was sold for a record $110.5 million while being estimated at only $60 million. This price is the highest ever paid for abstract art paintings by this famous American artist. Moreover, it is the first to break the $100 million barrier at the auction sale since 1980.
Basquiat’s record-breaking work was bought by Yusaku Maezawa, a Japanese billionaire and one of the most influential contemporary art collectors. This amazing piece of modern abstract art, painted in 1960 – 1988, has become the most expensive American artwork ever sold at auction. It is also worth noting that it is not the first Basquiat painting bought by Yusaku Maezawa. Last year, he paid $57.3 million at Christie’s New York Postwar and Contemporary Art Sale for another untitled work by this artist. Now the 41-year-old billionaire is planning to establish a private museum dedicated to the works of Jean-Michel Basquiat who died in 1988, aged just 27.
Among other highlights that went under the hammer at Sotheby’s New York Contemporary Art Evening Auction are “Nude Sunbathing” by Roy Lichtenstein (sold for $24 million), “Abstraktes Bild” by Gerhard Richter (sold for $15.4 million), and “Rigger” by Robert Rauschenberg (sold for $12.3 million). As for Sotheby’s New York Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Auction held on May 16, it was highlighted by the sale of such exceptional paintings and sculptures as Kazimir Malevich’s “Suprematist Composition with Plane in Projection” (sold for $21.1 million), Claude Monet’s “Le Bassin aux Nympheas” (sold for $16 million), Max Ernst’s “Le Roi jouant avec la Reine” (sold for $16 million), and Alberto Giacometti’s “Buste de Diego” (sold for $11 million). Overall, Sotheby’s New York Impressionist and Modern Art Sale brought a total of almost $173.9 million.
Along with Sotheby’s sales, there were several other important sales that took place in New York this month. Thus, Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale, which was held on May 17, raised almost $450 million, including $52.9 million for “Leda and the Swan” by Cy Twombly, $51.8 million for “Three Studies for a Portrait of George Dyer” by Francis Bacon, and $35 million for “La Hara” by Jean-Michel Basquiat. Another Christie’s New York auction held on May 15 – Impressionist and Modern Art Sale – brought a total of $289 million. Its top lots include Pablo Picasso’s paintings “Femme assise dans un fauteuil” and “Femme assise, robe bleue,” which were sold for $30.5 million and $45 million respectively, and Constantin Brancusi’s sculpture “La muse endormie,” which was sold for an impressive $57.4 million.
These were the results of the latest New York sales of modern and contemporary art. Stay with us to learn more!