Rare painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat sold for $ 40 million


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A giant painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat was auctioned Tuesday for $ 40 million including fees and is one of the late artist’s most expensive works.

Important facts

The final bid of $ 37 million was just below auction estimates, which saw the painting sell for $ 40 million to $ 80 million.

“The Guilt of Gold Teeth” is one of the few works that Basquiat created during a month-long stay in Modena, Italy, which is considered to be one of the artist’s most important creative periods.

The painting shows Baron Samedi, who, in the Haitian voodoo tradition, escorts the souls of the dead to the other side – but apart from dying, he is associated with celebration and custody, “as much about life as about death,” according to the auction house Christie’s.

Basquiat, whose father was from Haiti, portrayed versions of the character in several of his paintings, and “The Guilt of Gold Teeth” is one of the earliest examples.

As in his other works, Basquiat made playful references to the cultures around him in “The Guilt of Gold Teeth” – the word “ASPURIA” scribbled on the canvas at the top left is used by Christie’s as an interpretation of “aspirare, ”Italian for“ to strive ”.

The painting was last auctioned in 1998 when it was picked up $ 387,500, slightly less than the auction estimate of $ 400,000 to $ 500,000.


During Basquiat’s trip to Modena in 1982, the artist began developing the visual narrative of a Black Man in the United States, which Christie’s said became a recurring theme in his work. The other paintings that Basquiat made that year are among his best known and most expensive. Untitled, painted in 1982, sold for a staggering sale $ 110 million in 2017 to the Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, most of his previous works. Second is “Untitled (Devil)” which was sold for $ 57.3 million in 2016 and was also painted during the artist’s 1982 trip to Modena.

Key background

Basquiat’s work is experiencing a renaissance more than three decades after his sudden death at the age of 27. In March, Basquiat’s 1982 work “Warrior” became the most expensive painting by a Western artist to be auctioned in Asia when it was sold in Hong Kong for $ 42 million. “Versus Medici”, painted by Basquiat in 1982, was fetched $ 50.8 million at auction in May. Experts say one factor behind its rise in popularity is the Black Lives Matter movement and the renewed focus on color artists. Basquiat’s work has also been introduced to a new generation, with his legacy of high profile retail collaborations with brands like. participates Coach, Vice versa and Dr Martens. In August, a seldom-seen Basquiat painting played a notable role in a viral Tiffany ad starring Beyoncé and Jay-Z who bought a Basquiat painting in 2013. Basquiat’s estate is administered by the late artist’s sisters, but has been criticized for doing business by some of his friends and associates, they say commercialize excessively his work.

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