Auction of the Week: Jean-Michel Basquiat Print Doubles Estimate and Fetches $1.1 Million
At Doyle, international bidding drove the large-scale screenprint, which was created during a banner year for the iconic artist, to soar over its low evaluation
On November 1, Doyle set a new world auction record for Jean-Michel Basquiat’s 1983 print Back of the Neck. With an estimate of between $500,000 to $700,000, the work caused an intense bidding frenzy among interested buyers, eventually reaching $1.1 million—a record price for the print.
From an edition of 24 prints and 3 artist’s proofs, Back of the Neck was consigned by the estate of a prominent New York chef who chose to remain anonymous. The striking piece was created during a banner year for the artist. In fact, the years ’81 to ’84 were a brief period of intense artistic output that cemented Basquiat’s place within the canon of art history. Initially working under the moniker SAMO, Basquiat, a friend of artist Keith Haring, became an integral member of the social circle around the Mudd Club, a club-gallery in downtown New York. He had his first show in ’81, before two solo shows at the Annina Nosei Gallery in New York and Gagosian in Los Angeles in ’82, before being included in the Whitney Biennial in ’83.
Basquiat also holds the record for the highest price ever paid at auction for artwork by an American artist in a public sale, for his painting Untitled, 1982, which sold in May 2017 for $110.5 million.
This sale of Back of the Neck at Doyle confirms the steady and continued demand for the artist and the boom in the market for prints.
The work was part of Doyle’s Prints & Multiples sale that took place in New York following preview exhibitions in Doyle’s galleries on both coasts. Celebrating a ’80s theme, Doyle had even commissioned a special NYC logo for the sale from the Bronx-born artist CRASH.
There were other highlights and records too. A 1985 mixed media collage by Buster Cleveland, for example, set a world auction record for the artist, a 1984 print by Rammellzee set a world auction record for any print by the artist, and a 2009 color screenprint by Helen Frankenthaler set a world auction record for the print. The next sale for Doyle is the Impressionist & Modern Art / Post-War & Contemporary Art on Wednesday, November 15.