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Basquiat Painting Unseen For Over 20 Years To Be Among His Priciest Works Sold
By Mikelle Leow, 14 Oct 2021
Image via Christie’s
A 1982 Jean-Michel Basquiat painting, created when the street artist was just 22 years old, is expected to go off the block on November 9 for a minimum bidding price of US$40 million at auction house Christie’s, placing it among some of his most expensive artworks sold.
The almost-14-foot-wide piece, called The Guilt of Gold Teeth, depicts Baron Samedi, a symbol of death in Haitian Vodou. A non-existent word, “ASPURIA,” is also written on the art, and is believed to be in reference to “aspirare,” the Italian word for to aspire.
The current owner purchased the art from Sotheby’s New York in 1998, and it had remained in their private collection since.
While Christie’s hasn’t disclosed an estimated price for the work, ARTnews learned from a spokesperson that bidding will start from about US$40 million. If the sale turns out to be as lucrative as expected, it will become one of eight of the priciest Basquiats; in comparison, a massive sale in May saw a Basquiat artwork going under the hammer for US$93.1 million, marking the second-highest price paid for any of his paintings.
The Guilt of Gold Teeth is especially precious, as it is only one of a few produced by the late artist when he was in Modena, Italy. This was when his career was taking off at an international scale—that year, he’d participate in his first show under the name of Jean-Michel Basquiat.
“The Guilt of Gold Teeth represents an absolutely pivotal moment in Basquiat’s career,” said Ana Maria Celis, head of 21st-century art sales at Christie’s. “For the first time, he was exhibiting internationally, while simultaneously coming to a cultural reckoning with his own identity as a Black American. Through the inclusion of Baron Samedi, a key figure in Haitian Vodou, this work pays homage to his father's heritage.”
As with the sizes of other Basquiat artworks created in Modena, the large canvas for The Guilt of Gold Teeth “allowed him to express the full scope of his artistic ambitions, while at the same time replicating the urban canvases offered up to him by the buildings of New York,” said the auction house.
[via ARTnews, images via Christie’s]
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