Basquiat’s Mystique and Market Keep Rising

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Dustheads, 1982

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Dustheads, (1982), sold for $48.8 million at Christie’s New York in 2013.
Photo: courtesy of Christie’s Images Ltd.

Twitter and other social media platforms are alight today with shout-outs to wild-child graffiti artist Jean-Michel Basquiat to mark his birthday, which would have been his 54th if he were alive. With each passing year, interest in his life and the intrigue surrounding his death at the age of just 27 seem to intensify. The Brooklyn Museum has announced plans in the spring for a show of eight rare Basquiat notebooks that trace his rise as an artist as well as his struggles with addiction. Rizzoli has also announced plans for a new book to coincide with the exhibit, titled “Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks.” Last year, Acquavella Galleries organized a major show of Basquiat’s works on paper.

Much of the art world focus in the 27 years since Basquiat’s death has been on his tumultuous life and his large, bold, graffiti-style paintings, but that interest is increasingly extending to ephemera and more minor works that speak to his colorful life. Hundreds of works have sold at auction and the current record stands at $48 million for his painting Dustheads (1982), sold at Christie’s New York in May 2013. To date 18 of his paintings have sold for more than $10 million apiece at various auctions, and the artnet Price Database lists more than 2,000 auction results, ranging all the way down to about $1,000 for a poster or small crayon drawing.



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