Monday 8 June 2020

In post-lockdown, is $100m Basquiat sale enough confidence for art market?

  Jean-Michel Basquiat's Boy and Dog In A johnnypump on display. Pic: Internet source.

Less than a month after Financial Times reported that the art market’s performance in the covid-19 pandemic was lower than the 2008 global economic recession,  a $100 million Jean-Michel Basquiat was sold.

Apart from restoring confidence in the art market, the sale further affirmed Basquiat as one of the most expensive artists on the global art market scale. Basquiat (December 22, 1960 -August 12, 1988)), in 2017,  joined the league of masters whose secondary market value is above $100m.

According to reports, Baer Faxt, hedge-fund manager Ken Griffin purchased the painting titled Boy and Dog in a Johnnypump for $100m. It was $10m behind Basquiat’s auction record of $110.5 million set at Sotheby’s in 2017 for an Untitled painting. It was sold sold to Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa,
 by daughter of two collectors who purchased it for $19,000 in 1984.

Dated 1982, Boy and Dog in a Johnnypump has been described as a monumental work produced when Basquiat reached the peak of his creativity.

The real test for the art market's recovery comes when the three main auction houses, Sotheby's, Christie's and Philip's return in the next few weeks after the lockdown. Yes, some of the results from online auctions held during the lockdown were not exactly indicators of art market's response to recession compared to the 2008 meltdown referenced by Financial Times.

For Basquiat, his recent history in phenomenal market rise was also noted in May 2018 when a monumental painting by him sold for $30.7 million, more than 2,000 times its purchase price 35 years ago. A 12-foot-square painting dated 1983, it was bought by the last seller, a prominent collector,  Dolores Ormandy Neumann, for $15,000 same year during the artist’s solo show at Tony Shafrazi Gallery.

Basquiat's art market fortune took off in 2016 when Yusaku Maezawa, the 41-year-old founder of Contemporary Art Foundation,  set the previous auction high for Basquiat, paying $57.3 million for the artist’s large 1982 painting of a horned devil at Christie’s. Mr. Maezawa is also the founder of Japan’s large online fashion mall, Zozotown.

Mr. Maezawa later told Sotheby’s that he acquired his latest painting by the artist for a planned museum in his hometown, Chiba, Japan. “But before then I wish to loan this piece — which has been unseen by the public for more than 30 years — to institutions and exhibitions around the world,” he said in a statement. “I hope it brings as much joy to others as it does to me, and that this masterpiece by the 21-year-old Basquiat inspires our future generations.”
 - Tajudeen Sowole.

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