Eli Broad’s Museum Is the Buyer of the Record-Setting $12 Million Mark Bradford Painting

The painting, 'Helter Skelter,' was among a long list of recent acquisitions at the Broad Museum in Los Angeles.

Mark Bradford’s Helter Skelter I (2007) sold for a record £8.7 million ($12 million). Image courtesy of Phillips/phillips.com.

The billionaire collector and philanthropist Eli Broad has turned out to be the buyer of Mark Bradford’s monumental painting Helter Skelter I (2007), which set a record at Phillips last week in London when it sold for £8.7 million ($12 million). The work is now headed to The Broad Museum in Los Angeles.

Former tennis star John McEnroe consigned the work to Phillips with a guarantee and a lofty £6 million to £8 million estimate, which ensured the result would set a new auction record for the artist. “This is an astonishing work by one of the greatest artists of our time—and we are honored to have played a role in securing a wonderful new home for this masterpiece,” said Jean-Paul Engelen, co-head of 20th century and contemporary art at Phillips, in a statement.

Bradford’s work has been “central” to the Broad’s collection, said Joanne Heyler, the museum’s chief curator, who described the painting in a statement as “a masterpiece that references a chilling period in Los Angeles history—cult leader Charles Manson’s malevolent obsession with inciting a race war in the late 1960s, which he called Helter Skelter.” The painting will become a centerpiece of the museum’s galleries, she added.

The Broad also announced it had bought another, more recent Bradford work, titled I heard you got arrested today (2018), which is currently part of an exhibition of his new work on view now at Hauser & Wirth in downtown Los Angeles (through May 20).

The Broad recently announced additional acquisitions including Longing for Eternity (2017) by Yayoi Kusama, which will become the museum’s second infinity room by the artist. It will debut to the public tomorrow, March 17. The museum also added to its collection a painting by Kerry James Marshall, Untitled (2017), its first by the artist, and a major 60-part photographic work by Sherrie Levine, After Russell Lee 1–60 (2016), as well as other pieces by Sam Francis, Jasper Johns, Jeff Koons, Sharon Lockhart, Robert Longo, Julie Mehretu, Lari Pittman, Thomas Struth, Jeff Wall, and Jonas Wood.

Mark Bradford, Bear Running from the Shotgun (2014).
Courtesy of Christie’s Images, Ltd., 2018.

Bradford’s market is clearly heating up—further boosted by last year’s well received presentation at the Venice Biennale—though demand for his work has been intense for several years now

There is a virtual tie for Bradford’s second-highest auction price, £3.8 million ($5.8 million) paid for Constitution IV (2013) at Phillips’s London saleroom in October 2015, and the same price set for Bear Running From The Shotgun (2015) at Christie’s London’s recent evening sale of postwar and contemporary art on March 6.

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