A skull painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat, named Untitled, sold at auction Thursday for $110.5 million—the highest price ever paid for the work of an American artist, and also the sixth-highest auction price for any painting in world history.

The Sotheby’s auction lasted only 10 minutes, and the artwork was purchased by Yusaku Maezawa, a Chinese-born billionaire entrepreneur living in Japan, who bid by phone.


“When I first encountered this painting, I was struck with so much excitement and gratitude for my love of art,” Maezawa said in an Instagram post Thursday night. “I want to share that experience with as many people as possible.

Sotheby’s said that Untitled was a critical landmark in Basquiat’s career because it “declared the arrival of the brilliant, then virtually unknown, young artist into a world that would be forever transformed by his paintings.”

Basquiat’s painting set several records Thursday night. In addition to being the highest-priced work sold by any American artist, it was also the highest-priced work sold by an African-American artist, and the first work created since 1980 to make over $100 million.


Basquiat died in 1988 from a drug overdose. He was only 27 years old.

Bye, Kinja! It's been fun (occasionally).

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