The auction of a painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat, who died in 1987, grossed the highest price ever for an American artist and the sixth biggest sale in world history. Matthew Larotonda reports.
A rarely-glimpsed painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat has sold for a whopping $110.5 million dollars, the highest auction price ever for an American artist. It was originally expected to fetch roughly half that amount. And it's a huge jump for the untitled work, which sold for only $19,000 in 1984. Basquiat died four years later years later of a heroin overdose, aged 27, but today's price puts him into a pantheon of greats including Andy Warhol and Pablo Picasso. The sale coming down to a good old-fashioned bidding war in New York. (SOUNDBITE) (English) OLIVER BARKER, SOTHEBY'S INTERNATIONAL SPECIALIST OF CONTEMPORARY ART AND AUCTIONEER, SAYING: "Totally thrilling, I mean it really is such a privilege to have handled this extraordinary picture. We had an electrifying ten minute bidding battle on the picture which I think was. I mean, this is what the auction theater is really all about." The canvas was bought by the founder of the e-commerce firm Start Today, Yusaku Maezawa, who intends to lend it to public art exhibits before retiring it to his home in his native Japan.