Christie’s will be auctioning off a painting of Jean-Michel Basquiat, ‘Portrait of an Artist as a Young Derelict (1982)’

3 March 2022

By Helna Allisa

Fans of the graffiti maverick will have to be prepared to part with US$30 million.

The art auction market sees a historical moment as a painting of Jean-Michel Basquiat, titled Portrait of an Artist as a Young Derelict (1982), goes under the hammer in the open market for the first time.

Having been in the same private collection for 27 years, Portrait of an Artist as a Young Derelict first saw the light of day in an exhibition at the Fun Gallery (New York) in 1982, the same year it was created. The painting was purchased by an undisclosed collector soon after. This May, it’s set to be a crowd-turner at Christie’s 21st Century Evening Sale in New York City and expected to fetch a cool US$30 million (or more).

Standing at more than two metres high, the artwork is a three-part painting created on reclaimed wooden panels. Various imageries make up the painting, some said to illustrate Basquiat’s own journey to fame and eventual death; these include the distinct three-pointed crown, references of anatomical studies, along with boldly scrawled words. A collection of nails and hinges that Basquiat installed himself can also be seen on the artwork.

In recent years, Basquiat’s works have fallen onto the radar of many avid art collections from around the world. In fact, seven of his artworks have surpassed US$40 million at public auction – nothing short of an extraordinary coup.

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