Jean-Michel Basquiat Oil Stick Drawing, ca. 1979
I lived in New York from 1979 to 1985. I worked construction, I had gone to art school. One of my friends that I worked with, Chris Sedlmayr, Jean-Michel Basquiat used to work for him as a helper. Chris and I and another gentleman were business partners. And, uh, one Christmas, he gave me this as a Christmas present.
That's quite a nice gift.
Yes. It's an early piece from, I think, 1979.
You brought with you a letter. What does the letter tell us?
Uh, the letter is from my business partner who gifted me the drawing for Christmas. Gives the history of when it was drawn in his loft, when he gave it to me, and then he also had to sell some of the drawings, which Jean-Michel later returned to his loft and signed them, because he heard he was looking to sell them.
Okay. Well, as I said at the onset, what an amazing thing to have. Jean-Michel Basquiat, born 1960, tragically died in 1988. Here we are in September of 2017. And as for now, at a little over $110 million, the most expensive work by an American artist ever sold at auction is by Basquiat. This is an oil stick on paper. We know that he is an artist who was largely self-taught, had artistic predilections as a young man, ran away from home, had parents who were of Puerto Rican and Haitian descent. He was somebody who, by the early 1980s, had a career that really took off. He was in the circles of artists such as Julian Schnabel, Keith Haring, Andy Warhol. His brief association with Madonna made him quite famous, as well. Basquiat's work is fraught with signs and symbols, and, depending upon the works, undertones that speak of class, race, social upheaval. Often figural, not always. Often accompanied by words that can take on many different meanings. The crown that we see there in the upper right appears in many of his works. We believe that this is a genuine work by Basquiat. That the committee that makes the official pronouncements-- or did-- has disbanded makes it somewhat problematic relative to being 100% certain that it's an authentic oil stick drawing on paper. We think today, in 2017, on the supposition that the work is genuine, I would insure the work for $400,000.
Ooh. That's good. But it's not... We won't sell it. We'll keep it.
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