Basquiat tops Warhol after painting sells for $111 million

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Sotheby's NY saleroom erupted into applause Thursday after a Japanese billionaire paid $110.5 million for a work by Jean-Michel Basquiat, the highest price ever paid at auction for a work by a US artist.

The previous record for Basquiat's work at auction was the $57.3 million paid a year ago at a Christie's NY sale for another untitled painting from 1982, from the collection of Adam Lindemann.

The $110.5 million price tag was a record price for any US artist at auction and the highest price at auction for an artwork created after 1980, Sotheby's said.

Basquiat's piece, called "Untitled", was created in 1982 and features a black skull on top of a colorful background.

It went to a telephone buyer from Japan, following 10 minutes of bidding with a client in Sotheby's.

Loud cheers greeted the purchase, which also doubled the price paid for a previous Basquiat at $57 million a year ago.

Basquiat died of a drug overdose in 1988 at age 27.

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The subject of much of his work - ordeals endured by blacks in the USA - is finding renewed resonance in the wake of nationwide United States protests since 2014 about the shootings of unarmed black men by police.

Christie's sold Basquiat's "La Hara" - an acrylic and oil-stick of an angry-looking NY police officer - for $35 million on Wednesday.

"When I saw this painting, I was struck with so much excitement and gratitude for my love of art", said Maezawa.

And it's the first work made after 1980 to sell for more than $100 million.

Sotheby's also sold Roy Lichtenstein's "Nude Sunbathing" on Thursday for $24 million. In total, $319.2million was spent on 50 lot items.

Sustained whoops and cheers that harked back to the tenor of the post-2010 art market boom, which was marked by spiking prices and ever-new records, broke out as the hammer came down in Sotheby's packed salesroom.

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