Warrior, the painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat, was sold for $41.9 million. The story from the auction world comes at a time when interests in non-fungible tokens or NFTs were skyrocketing. Unlike other similar purchases, which have garnered around $69 to $500 million, the Basquiat announcement earlier this year served to solidify the artist’s status rather than propel him into a brand-new concept.
The artwork was sold for the top range of its estimate to an undisclosed bidder represented by Christie’s in Hong Kong. The sculpture was meant to represent the problem encountered by Black males in a white-dominated environment, sources told the New York Times. Basquiat crafted the work in 1982, only six years before his unfortunate passing at the age of 27 in 1988.
Because of the early end to Basquiat’s busy and promising life, the number of his works in motion in the art world has long been limited. Three bidders battled it out for the artwork at Christie’s auction until the auctioneer finally slammed the gavel shut. The ultimate price was much more than the $8.7 million paid for the renovation by real estate magnate Aby Rosen in 2012. While Christie’s refused to say if Rosen was the seller at the single-lot auction last March, the painting’s lineage suggested he was.
The current record for the highest amount ever paid for a piece by Basquiat is $41.9 million. Yusaku Maezawa, a Japanese billionaire and art collector, paid $110 million for an unnamed piece from Basquiat in 2017.
According to Christophe van de Weghe in a New York Times feature, he described Basquiat as one of the strongest markets emerging from the current pandemic. He further explained that anyone, at any age, can choose to spend millions on a piece from Basquiat as he has a wide range of attractions.