Release of Limited Edition $50,000 Basquiat Print Creates Excitement and Confusion

A sale was shrouded in secrecy until today.


Hollywood Africans in front of the Chinese Theater with Footprints of Movie Stars
©Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat Image: Courtesy of Pace Prints, New York.

When news began trickling out last week that Pace Prints would sell a limited edition Jean-Michel Basquiat print authorized by the Basquiat estate, many interested buyers took notice.

Some potential buyers were informed—albeit with sparse details—of the upcoming sale via a newsletter the gallery sends to its clients. artnet News saw a short brief on Complex which also had limited details.

But calls to the Basquiat estate—where we spoke with Nora Fitzpatrick, the former girlfriend of the artist’s late father Gerard Basquiat—yielded no information. Fitzpatrick, who seemed to know nothing at all about the print, advised us to send an email; we received no response. Pace also did not respond to emails sent last week.

This morning it was announced that the Basquiat screenprint, above, was released today at noon EST. Hollywood Africans in front of the Chinese Theater with Footprints of Movie Stars is based on imagery from Basquiat’s famous 1983 painting, which is in the Whitney Museum of American Art’s collection. According to the email, “Purchases can be placed in person at either Pace Prints location, or by sending an email with your name and telephone number to [email protected].” However, orders are placed on “a first come, first serve basis.”

Tamra Davis, still from A Conversation with Basquiat (2006). Photo: Courtesy of the artist/Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Tamra Davis, still from A Conversation with Basquiat (2006).
Photo: Courtesy of the artist/estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat.

The run of 60 prints are priced at $50,000 each, which is considerably higher than the $20,000 to $30,000 estimate we had been hearing when we spoke to informed sources familiar with the print run last week. The artnet Price Database shows that the most desirable prints have frequently sold for $50,000 or slightly above. One source familiar with the Basquiat print market told us the price may have been set so high in order to deter flipping.

It’s unclear as to why the Basquiat estate chose to issue this print now. The last time it authorized a sale of prints was in 2005. Prior to that, in 2001, eight prints were released under Gerard’s authority.

In early 2012, the estate announced it would stop authenticating works, so we were curious about what marks of approval or authenticity buyers will get with the new run of works. According to a release from Pace about the prints: “The posthumous release is stamped and signed by Lisane Basquiat and Jeanine Heriveaux, the artist’s sisters and administrators of the Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat.”

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