A painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat notched the second-highest price ever for a contemporary art work. Fred Katayama reports.
When the hammer finally came down at Sotheby's, Jean-Michel Basquiat's painting sold for $110.5 million, and the room erupted into cheers. This vibrant untitled portrait of a skull was the second highest price ever paid for a work of contemporary art and the sixth-highest price ever for any auctioned art. That's an astounding appreciation for a work that sold for $19,000 in 1984. Sotheby's International's auctioneer Oliver Barker: SOUNDBITE: OLIVER BARKER, SOTHEBY'S INTERNATINOAL SPECIALIST OF CONTEMPORARY ART AND AUCTIONEER, (ENGLISH) SAYING: "Totally thrilling, I mean it really is such a privilege to have handled this extraordinary picture. We had an electrifying ten minute bidding battle on the picture which I think was pure drama. I am this is waht the auction theater is really all about." The winning bidder: a Japanese e-commerce entrepreneur, Yusaku Maezawa. He plans to lend the work for public shows before installing it in his own museum. Barker says the price Maezawa is paying puts the Brooklyn artist in the ranks of Picasso, Warhol and Bacon.