In This Case, a large-scale painting by
fetched US$93.1 million with fees at Christie’s live-streamed 21st-century evening sale Tuesday night, achieving the second highest price at auction for a work by the artist.
The 1983 skull painting—an acrylic and oil stick work on canvas of an iconic Basquiat image—sparked fierce bidding over the course of six minutes before auctioneer
brought the hammer down at a price of US$81 million. The buyer is anonymous.
The final result was the highest price paid for a work at auction since Christie’s sold
’ Rabbit for US$91.1 million.
The monumental painting is considered to be part of a grouping of three featuring a large skull that Basquiat created, one in 1981, and another in 1982, says Ana Maria
head of Christie’s 21st-century evening sale. The 1982 untitled work sold for US$110 million at a Sotheby’s sale in 2017.
In This Case was the highlight of Christie’s first iteration of a new auction format focused on works created since 1980. The sale was 95% sold by lot and 100% sold by value, achieving a total of US$210.5 million.
Among those sales were 11 artist auction records, representing nearly a third of the artists in the sale. The result “speaks to the desire to collect contemporary art and the artists of our generation,” Celis said at a virtual press conference after the sale.
The artist records include Larva Labs, a software company founded by
who created an algorithm that created the CrytpoPunks—a set of 10,000 nonfungible tokens, or NFTs. The NFTs were initially offered for free.
The set of nine CryptoPunks on offer achieved nearly US$17 million with fees, above a high estimate of US$9 million.
At the press event Christie’s specialist
said it’s unclear yet whether the buyer, who remains anonymous, will pay in cryptocurrency or U.S. dollars.
Another auction record was achieved by Rashid
The artist’s Anxious Red Painting December 18th, 2020, which was painted with a pigment Johnson developed during the pandemic, achieved US$1.95 million with fees. The 72 x 96 inch painting carried an estimate between US$200,000 and US$300,000.
The work was among several in the sale donated by the individual artists to benefit Community Organized Relief Efforts, or CORE, an emergency relief nonprofit co-founded by the actor
and human-relief work veteran
The funds raised will support communities affected by the pandemic.
Also among these donated works was
New York, New York, 2021, which achieved a record for the artist at US$275,000, selling to an anonymous buyer on the phone with a specialist in Hong Kong. The acrylic and pigment on linen work was expected to achieve between US$40,000 and US$60,000.
In a separate fundraiser, the artist
donated her work The Fishermen, 2021, to benefit Art for Acres, a group that supports land conservation. The last lot of the evening, the oil painting attracted heated bidding before selling for US$2.97 million with fees to an anonymous buyer on the phone with a specialist in Hong Kong. Organizations that included the Andes Amazon Fund, Global Wildlife Conservation, and the Wyss Foundation, provided 300% in matching funds, to raise a total US$9.8 million for Art for Acres, Christie’s said.
New Layout, 2009, a work made of found aluminum bottle caps and copper wire, fetched US$1.95 million for an auction record.
Diplomacy III, 2009 fetched the same price to also achieve an auction record for the artist.
Mickalene Thomas’s Raquel Reclining Wearing Purple Jumpsuit, 2016, a work created with oil, acrylic, silkscreen, rhinestones, faux pearls, glitter, graphite, and flock on wood panel, in two parts, fetched US$1.83 million, also a record for the artist. The collage is massive at 96 inches by 144 inches.
Records were also achieved for works by
Nina Chanel Abney,
Alex Da Corte.
A Baquiat painting also realized the third highest price for the night. Untitled (Soap), sold for US$13.2 million with fees.