Now on Artnet Auctions: A Rare Monumental Work on Paper by Jean-Michel Basquiat

Learn more about this large-scale drawing's unique significance in Basquiat's oeuvre.

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled, 1981. Ink on paper, 29 x 82.5 in. (73.66 x 209.55 cm.). Est. $300,000—400,000 in Contemporary Art on Artnet Auctions.

Jean-Michel Basquiat often drew upon his lived experience when creating his singular body of work. Our current Contemporary Art sale includes a perfect example of this process: a massive untitled drawing by the artist featuring a car motif. Live for bidding now through March 11, Untitled (1981) presents the exciting opportunity to collect a significant work by the iconic artist at an approachable price.

When he was just seven years old, Basquiat was involved in a serious car accident that left him with several severe injuries, as well as lasting trauma and anxiety. His deeply personal body of work reflects the challenges he faced in his life, and the car motif recurs throughout his works. Known for his role in elevating graffiti artists from the streets to the New York City gallery scene, Basquiat became one of the first Black American artists to rise to superstardom during the 1980s. Through his gestural marks and spray-painted crowns, Basquiat’s work often references his Haitian and Puerto Rican heritage, political issues, pop-culture icons, and Biblical verses. His expressive style aligned him with street artists like Keith Haring, but also Neo-expressionists Julian Schnabel and David Salle.

Untitled has a fascinating provenance, too; the drawing was previously a part of the collection of the Mudd Club, a legendary New York City nightclub frequented by stars of the 1980s downtown scene, including Debbie Harry, Jeff Koons, and Andy Warhol. What’s more, it’s rare to find a work on paper by the artist on this scale—the drawing measures nearly seven feet wide, and the market for works on paper by Basquiat has seen steady growth over the last decade.

Global auction sales volume of works on paper by Jean-Michel Basquiat, 2010 to 2020, showing a steady and healthy increase.

Between 2010 and 2020, the total global auction sales volume for works on paper by Basquiat jumped from $3.8 million to $34.3 million, a nearly 800% increase. The total number of works on paper offered at auction each year stayed relatively steady during the same period, showing that the increase in sales volume was due to an increase in value rather than a flooding of the market. The average price of works on paper by Basquiat increased healthily over the same period, from $185,031 in 2010 to over $1.4 million in 2020. With that in mind, the work in our sale, estimated at $300,000—400,000, is exceptionally well priced for an original drawing of this scale.

Market activity proves that works by Basquiat are safe investments. They tend to retain and increase in value consistently across all categories and mediums, and they make a stellar addition to any collection. Opportunities to acquire works by Basquiat at prices under $500,000 are rare—don’t miss your chance. Untitled (1981) will be live for bidding through March 11 on Artnet Auctions.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out directly to the specialist for this lot, Henri Neuendorf, with any questions.

Specialist, Contemporary Art

[email protected]

+1 (212) 497-9700 ext. 203

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