A-Rod Is Selling Basquiat and Richard Prince Works at Phillips to Start a New Collection With Fiancée Jennifer Lopez

The star athlete says he's starting a new chapter as a collector.

Alex Rodriguez with Jean-Michel Basquiat's Pink Elephant with Fire Engine (1984). Image courtesy of Phillips.
Alex Rodriguez with Jean-Michel Basquiat's Pink Elephant with Fire Engine (1984). Image courtesy of Phillips.

Will it be a home run?

Phillips is offering two works from the collection of baseball superstar and former Yankees shortstop Alex Rodriguez (better known as A-Rod) in its upcoming London sale. Richard Prince’s Mustang Painting (2014–16), and Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Pink Elephant with Fire Engine (1984) will hit the block at Phillips’s evening sale of 20th century and contemporary art on June 27. The high-wattage provenance is sure to enhance the appeal of the works for baseball-loving collectors.

The Basquiat, a bright composition with cartoon-inspired figures, carries an estimate of £3 million to £4 million ($3.8 million–5 million), while the Prince painting of a vintage car is estimated at £700,000 to £1 million ($890,000–1.2 million). The proceeds, it appears, will be used to help the athlete build a new collection with his fiancée, pop star Jennifer Lopez, with whom he was spotted browsing Art Basel Miami Beach in December.

Rodriguez has been collecting on his own for a decade and likens the rigorous discipline of an athlete to that of the artists he collects. “A number of gallerists and advisors pointed me in the right direction, and I have been in conversation with several artists, whose studio practice seem close to my own as an athlete,” he said in a statement.

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Pink Elephant with Fire Engine (1984). Image courtesy of Phillips.

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Pink Elephant with Fire Engine (1984). Image courtesy of Phillips.

In a Q&A in the sale’s catalogue with Robert Manley, Phillips’s worldwide co-head of 20th century and contemporary art, Rodriguez revealed he plans to begin building a collection Lopez. “I am starting a fresh chapter in my personal life, and after a decade of collecting on my own, I am excited to begin a new collecting journey with Jennifer,” he said. “We are both committed to the arts, and will continue to be great patrons together.”

Asked what kind of work he is drawn to, Rodriguez said, “I like works that tell a story, often related to my own personal experiences. Basquiat is one of my favorite artists of all time; each painting he created reads as a diary of his day.”

This marks the first time that both the Basquiat and the Prince have been offered at auction.

Richard Prince, Mustang Painting (2014-16). Image courtesy of Phillips.

Richard Prince, Mustang Painting (2014-16). Image courtesy of Phillips.

Art dealer Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn, who serves as an advisor to Rodriguez, told Bloomberg that he and Lopez “are committed as a couple to collect together. So he’s making some changes.”

At Rodriguez’s home in Coral Gables, Florida, where he hosts star-studded parties during Art Basel Miami Beach and sometimes displays art inside his batting cage, Rodriguez has work by artists including Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, and Jean-Michel Basquiat, as well as contemporary art stars like Dan Colen, Glenn Ligon, and Joe Bradley. A 2016 spread in Architectural Digest showed work by Basquiat, Jonathan Horowitz, Adam McEwan, Nate Lowman, and Lucien Smith. (Yes, you are correct, there are no women on this list.)

“I really enjoy these people personally,” Rodriguez told AD. “I go to their studios and watch them do their work. And a lot of them come to see me play at Yankee Stadium.”


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