Swann Sells Leather Jacket With Basquiat Scribbles, Estimate $7,000 to $10,000

Tagged Basquiat jacket on the auction block at Swan Auctions tonight Swan Auctions

If the bevy of artwork and artist-collaborated objects at London’s pop-up store House of Voltaire doesn’t boast the perfect gift for your favorite art lover (See Need Holiday Gifts for Your Art World Friends? Look No Further), today’s Swann Auction Galleries’ contemporary art sale has one lot of artist paraphernalia that would make any art and style aficionado weak at the knees. On the block today is a jacket tagged by “The Radiant Child” himself, Jean-Michel Basquiat, as well as several other artists during an after-hours party at the trendy 1980s nightclub, Danceteria.

The owner of the white leather jacket, Rico Espinet, stage manager and lighting director at the club from 1981 to 1986, is putting the jacket up for sale. On the fateful night of the jacket’s tagging, feeling the vibe was especially groovy, Espinet handed it and permanent markers to an elevator operator at the club for guests to make their mark on the jacket. Straying away from his more poignant and political imagery and phrases, Basquiat tagged the words “breast”, “tity”, “Ass”,and “corset” illustrating such body parts. Other contributors to the wearable piece of art include fashion designer and artist Stephen Sprouse, and street artists Jep 2, Stash and Energy.

Basquiat's "Ass" tag. Courtesy Swann Auction Galleries.

Basquiat’s “Ass” tag.
Courtesy Swann Auction Galleries.

The jacket has a pre-sale estimate of $7,000 to $10,000. While it will definitely cost you more than the array of artful gifts at House of Voltaire, the piece will certainly set you back less than your average Basquiat painting— according to artnet’s Price Database the artist’s auction record stands at $48.8 million (See Rothko Reels In $45 Million at Sotheby’s $343.6 Million Contemporary Evening Sale).

Communications director at Swann Auctions, Rebecca Weiss, affirmed the unique status of the piece saying “this is the first time we’ve offered a piece by Basquiat that falls outside of what we traditionally think of as art.” While most eyes are fixed on Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary evening sale this week, which has an astonishing pre-sale total estimate of $600 million, this particular lot at Swann is one to watch.


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