Jean-Michel Basquiat’s painting, In this Case, has sold for $US93.1 million ($119 million) at auction in New York, the second-highest price paid for a work by the late artist.
The 1983 painting, which depicts a skull on a red background, sold for $US81 million at Christie’s, but with fees and commissions the final price came to $US93.1 million, well above the estimate of $US50 million.
It was another skull, Untitled, that set the record for the most expensive by Basquiat.
It went for $US110.5 million in May 2017 at Sotheby’s in New York.
In This Case reprises two dominant themes in Basquiat’s work, anatomy and representation of African-American characters.
In a sign of Basquiat’s growing status in the art world, the same canvas was sold in November 2002 for just $US999,500, barely more than a hundredth of the price paid on Tuesday.
With the exception of Basquiat, who was based in New York, African-American painters have long been undervalued by collectors and underrepresented in museums.
In recent years, the market has started a process of re-evaluating many of them.
On Tuesday, Christie’s had presented several Black artists as part of its big spring sale.
A Nina Chanel Abney work sold for $US990,000, a Jordan Casteel went for $US687,500 and a Rashid Johnson fetched $US1.95 million.
A work by British artist Lynette Yiadom-Boakye was sold for $US1.95 million and a piece by Ghanaian sculptor El Anatsui went under the hammer for $US1.95 million, all of them setting new records.
— Christie's (@ChristiesInc) May 12, 2021