Yusaku Maezawa Revealed as Buyer of Record-Breaking Basquiat Painting

He dropped more than $80 million on art last night.

Yusaku Maezawa. Photo © Yusaku Maezawa.

At Christie’s postwar and contemporary auction Tuesday evening, a $57 million Jean-Michel Basquiat painting was snapped up by an anonymous buyer, who has since been revealed.

Yusaku Maezawa, the 40-year-old founder of Contemporary Art Foundation, and Japan’s largest online fashion mall, Zozotown, also purchased four other major works at the sale last night, for a hefty total of $81.3 million. He is number 17 on Forbes list of the 50 richest Japanese people with an estimated worth of $2.7 billion.

In addition to the record-setting Basquiat, Maezawa bought Richard Prince’s Runaway Nurse (2007) for $9.7 million; Jeff Koons’ Lobster (2007-2012) for $6.9 million, Alexander Calder’s Sumac 17 (1955), for $5.8 million, and Bruce Nauman’s Eat War (1986), for $1.7 million.

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled (1982)Image: Courtesy of Christie's Images Ltd.

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled (1982). Courtesy of Christie’s Images Ltd.

In a statement obtained by artnet News, Maezawa said:

“When I encountered the [Basquiat painting] at the Christie’s New York preview, I had an immediate visceral connection it. Generationally, I relate to Basquiat’s culture and the essence of his life story.

Rather than monetary or investment value, I felt I had a personal responsibility to take care of this masterpiece and preserve it for the next generation. This Basquiat was first exhibited in Tokyo in 1985. For Japan, this was an art historical moment. To have encountered such a superb painting gives me great joy from the bottom of my heart and I feel privileged and honored to own it…

Contemporary Art Foundation hosts collection shows twice per year and we look forward to sharing the painting with the public in the near future.”



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