Jean-Michel Basquiat's 1982 painting, Untitled (Red Warrior), could fetch $25 million at auction next month, solidifying the artist's blue-chip market status.
The work is expected to go for anywhere between HKD 150 to 200 million (approximately $19.2 to $25.7 million), a staggering yet unsurprising sum given the skyrocketing value of Basquiat's art.
Back in February, another painting from Basquiat's Warrior series sold for approximately $41 million at Christie's Hong Kong, becoming the most expensive Western work to sell in Asia.
In May, Basquiat's Versus Medici, completed in 1982, was sold by Sotheby's for $50.2 million.
And, lest we forget, the auction house sold another Basquiat from 1982 — an untitled skull painting — for a record-breaking $110.5 million in 2017.
Clearly, the ultra-rich have taken an interest in Basquiat, an ironic turn considering that the artist's work often critiqued class conflict — Basquiat himself never got to enjoy any of the money that his works have garnered.
Basquiat's appeal has everything to do with his talent and compelling personal history. Thanks to this enduring legacy, a slew of fashion brands — from Coach to UNIQLO to Saint Laurent — have licensed the late artist's work for "collaborations."
It's intriguing to imagine what Basquiat himself would think of all the fanfare surrounding his work.
Would he feel triumphant, having climbed to the top of a predominately white art world? Or would he react to the commercialization of his work with ambivalence, perhaps even disdain?