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A Japanese billionaire has bought a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting for $110.5 million, the highest ever price paid at auction for a work by an American artist.
It’s a spectacular increase from the last time the painting, “Untitled, ” was sold — it fetched a mere $19,000 in 1984. For more than 30 years since then, the picture depicting a skull-like head has remained stashed away in a private collection.
The Japanese buyer, e-commerce tycoon Yusaku Maezawa, said he plans to loan the painting out around the world before making it the centerpiece of his museum in his hometown of Chiba.
“I hope it brings as much joy to others as it does to me, and that this masterpiece by the 21-year-old Basquiat inspires our future generations, ” he said in a statement.
The sale of the picture at Sotheby’s in New York puts it in an elite club: only 10 other works have sold for more than $100 million.
Painted by Basquiat in 1982, “Untitled” has now fetched the sixth highest price ever for a work of fine art. The Sotheby’s catalogue describes it as a “raw, uncensored, and fiercely magnificent.”
Related: ‘Pink Star’ diamond sells for record $71 million at auction
The amount it sold for blew away the auction house’s pre-sale estimate of $60 million.

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