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Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled

11,000$
The large, intense canvas of a skull on a bright-blue background had not been publicly exhibited in 35 years, according to Sotheby’s, and had been in the collection of Emily and Jerry Spiegel since it was purchased at Christie’s in May 1984 for $19,000. It was handed down to one of the couple’s two daughters, following the deaths of both Mr. and Mrs. Spiegel in 2009. Bidding began at $57 million, a sum that sounded a little cheeky at first, and drew murmurs from the crowd. The murmurs morphed into gasps as that figure, and with it Basquiat’s record, receded into history and the bidding soared. Almost immediately after the gavel fell, Yusaku Maezawa posted a photo on Instagram of himself taken with his prize during a previous trip to see it in New York. “When I first encountered this painting, I was struck with so much excitement and gratitude for my love of art. I want to share that experience with as many people as possible,” he wrote. Maezawa’s $110.4 million purchase, and a previous record-setting Basquiat purchase from 2016, are both destined for public display in Japan.