Sotheby’s London to Offer $22 Million Basquiat Canvas

The artist's top two auction prices are for works from the same year.

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled (One Eyed Man or Xerox Face) (1982). Courtesy Sotheby's London.
Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled (One Eyed Man or Xerox Face) (1982). Courtesy Sotheby's London.

One of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s trademark canvases, valued at up to $22.4 million, will come to auction at Sotheby’s London next month.

Untitled (One Eyed Man or Xerox Face), from 1982, features a standing figure in crimson, arms overhead, with a cyclopean face bearing a frozen grin, set against a multicolored background and sporting a halo rendered in black. The seller is unnamed.

All of Basquiat’s top works at auction date from the years 1981 to 1983; he died from a drug overdose in 1988. The artist’s auction record stands at $57.3 million, paid for an untitled 1982 painting measuring some sixteen feet wide at Christie’s New York in May 2016 to an unnamed buyer. That sale broke what was then the artist’s auction high, $48.8 million, paid for the canvas Dustheads, from the same year, at Christie’s New York in May 2013.

Jean-Michel Basquiat. Courtesy Sotheby's.

Jean-Michel Basquiat. Courtesy Sotheby’s.

Estimated at £14-18 million ($17.4–$22.4 million at current exchange rates) and standing six feet tall, Untitled (One Eyed Man or Xerox Face) has been off the auction block since 1987, when it sold at Sotheby’s New York for $23,100.

An untitled Basquiat painting of the same year and the same size, also showing a single figure, fetched $29.3 million, within the sale estimate, at Christie’s New York in November 2013, according to the artnet Price Database.

“The hero figures in Basquiat’s paintings refer to the stars of sporting, musical and artistic worlds who, thanks to their extraordinary talents, transcended their social status to become the nation’s icons,” said Alex Branczik, head of contemporary art for Sotheby’s Europe. “Painted with their arms held aloft and wearing a crown of thorns they also reflect Basquiat’s own dramatic ascent from street artist to gallery sensation, and to his present status as one of the most valuable and talked about artists in the world.”

The painting comes to market the night after a Basquiat drawing that’s being offered at Christie’s London by U2 bassist Adam Clayton. That work is tagged at just £1 million—£1.5 million ($1.2 million—$1.8 million).

The March 8 Sotheby’s sale also features works by Gerhard Richter (estimated at up to $14.6 million), Georg Baselitz (tagged at up to $10.4 million), Jean Dubuffet (up to $6.1 million), Alexander Calder ($4.9 million), and Adrian Ghenie (bearing a high estimate of $3.7 million).

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