Three Early Basquiat Paintings to Sell at Philips This Spring 

Phillip’s auction will sell three paintings by Jean-Michel Basquiat during its spring sales in New York and Hong Kong. The works, which were made between 1981 and 1982, come from the collection of the anthropologist Francesco Pellizzi and were bought from Basquiat’s first dealer, Annina Nosei, in the early ’80s.

Leading the New York sale on May 14 is the monumental 1982 picture Untitled (ELMAR), a nearly eight-foot-wide canvas featuring a modern-day Icarus about to fall out of the heavens and an archer firing two arrows in his direction. Untitled (ELMAR) is expected to sell for between $40 million and $60 million.

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Untitled (ELMAR) was included in an exhibition dedicated to Pellizzi’s collection at the New York’s Hofstra Museum in 1989. It was also on view at an exhibition commemorating the 10-year anniversary of Basquiat’s death at Gagosian Los Angeles in 1998 and featured on the cover of the accompanying catalogue. The picture was also shown at the artist’s retrospective at the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris in 2018.

In New York, Philips will also sell the 1981 canvas Untitled (Portrait of a Famous Ballplayer). The painting will come with a $6.5 million–$8.5 million estimate. Two weeks later, on May 31, in Hong Kong, the house will sell Native Carrying Some Guns, Bibles, Amorites on Safari (1982) for an estimated $12 million–$18 million. 

Basquiat’s paintings have sold particularly well in Asia. In May 2022, an untitled 1982 painting from Japanese multimillionaire Yusaku Maezawa’s collection sold for $85 million. Just six years earlier, Maezawa had bought it at Christie’s for $57.3 million.

The artist’s work is a staple at New York evening sales. During last year’s May sales, Christie’s sold a 12-foot-wide 1983 triptych from the collection of the Italian fashion designer Valentino Garavani for just over $67 million, putting the painting among the most expensive Basquiat works ever auctioned.

“Basquiat’s relevance and fame has only continued to grow each year and he is one of the most sought-after artists of any century,” Robert Manley, deputy chairman and worldwide co-head 20th century and contemporary art at Philips, said in a statement. He referred to Gagosian’s current exhibition of Basquiat’s work in Los Angeles, and said, “From where I stand, the momentum seems to be picking up.”


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