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Basquiat Self-Portrait May Fetch Record $20 Million

Basquiat Self-Portrait
A 1981 untitled self-portrait by Jean-Michel Basquiat. The acrylic, oilstick and spray-paint canvas sold for a record in an auction of post-war and contemporary works at Christie's International in London on June 27. Source: Christie's Images Ltd. 2012 via Bloomberg.

A trademark self-portrait by Jean-Michel Basquiat is estimated to sell for a record $20 million when it appears at auction this month.

The 1981 canvas “Untitled,” showing the former graffiti artist with hands raised beside his mask-like face, is formally valued at about 13 million pounds in the June 27 Christie’s International sale of postwar and contemporary art in London.

The vivid acrylic, oilstick and spray-paint canvas will be offered after another untitled 1981 work sold for an artist-record $16.3 million at Phillips de Pury & Co. in New York, on May 10.

Christie’s painting is being entered by a collector based on the West Coast of the U.S. who bought it for a record $14.6 million at auction in 2007. The work had been sold by the Israel Museum, Jerusalem.

At the time, the price was about three times the previous high for Basquiat, said Brett Gorvy, Christie’s chairman and international head of postwar and contemporary art.

“It’s one of the big, single-figure paintings from the key period of 1981-83,” Gorvy said in an interview. “The owner realizes that if he’s going to sell and maximize the value, this is the moment.”

A minimum price for the work has been guaranteed by a third party, Gorvy said.

The 71-lot sale is estimated to raise at least 105 million pounds, a record minimum valuation for an evening contemporary-art auction at Christie’s in London.

(Scott Reyburn writes about the art market for Muse, the arts and culture section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are his own.)

Muse highlights include Elin McCoy on wine and Lance Esplund on art.

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