This Mega-Collector Bought $100 Million Worth of Art at Last Week’s Auctions, Including Basquiat’s $50 Million Take on the Medicis
The same buyer also offloaded a few lower-priced works.
Billionaire Steve Wynn was a big player at auctions in New York last week, buying more than $100 million worth of blue-chip art and offloading a couple of lower-priced works as well.
Wynn Fine Art, a dealership he founded, was the anonymous buyer of Versus Medici (1982) by Jean-Michel Basquiat, which fetched $50.3 million at Sotheby’s, according to Wynn’s lawyer Michael Kosnitzky.
The 1981 painting was the fourth priciest lot of the $1.5 billion auction week, trailing a $103 million Picasso, a $70.4 million Claude Monet, and another Basquiat, a skull, which sold for $93.1 million.
Versus Medici, whose title evokes the all-powerful Italian patron family, had been estimated at $35 million to $50 million. (Final prices include fees, estimates don’t.)
Wynn’s company also went on a buying spree at Christie’s, scooping up Vincent van Gogh’s Le Pont de Trinquetaille (1888) for $37.4 million and Andy Warhol’s Two Marilyns (Double Marilyn) (1962) for $15.8 million, according to Kosnitzky.
“It’s for resale,” he said of the haul.
As a seller, Wynn parted with lower-priced works by Warhol and Richard Diebenkorn, according to his lawyer.
One of the world’s top art collectors, Wynn set up the eponymous dealership in 2018, shortly after he resigned from the publicly traded casino company he founded after multiple women accused him of sexual misconduct and assault. He has denied the allegations.
With headquarters in Las Vegas, Wynn Fine Art also operates exhibition spaces in Beverly Hills and Palm Beach. The latter currently has an exhibition of Warhol and Basquiat on view through the end of June.
“Andy Warhol was a friend of mine,” Wynn said in a press release for the show. “He loved coming to the Golden Nugget in Atlantic City. I admired him and have enjoyed collecting and owning his paintings. Andy made the portraits of me as a gift, for which I am very grateful… which was cool!”
The gallery declined to comment on its acquisitions and sales at auction last week.
Wynn is known as a buyer and seller of major works. In 2020, shortly before the pandemic hit, he paid $105 million for a duo of Picasso paintings from the estate of financier Donald Marron.
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