The upstart dethroned canonical figures in the history of American art.
Jean-Michel Basquiat, the legendary New York graffiti artist-turned-art world phenomenon, captured the record for the top-selling American artist at auction at Sotheby’s New York Thursday night, cementing his place in a market pantheon by $110.5 million. Market valuation and art-historical significance don’t always coincide, but this set a high-water mark for an artist whose market had already gone nuclear and who had long been among the top-selling African-American artists by volume.
What other US artists did Basquiat dethrone? What does the new record mean for the way these artists are relatively valued? That will be for market experts to debate. In the meantime, for your eye-popping pleasure, here are the artists Basquiat pushed down on the list.
1. $105.4 million
Andy Warhol, Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster) (in 2 parts)
Sold in November 2013 at Sotheby’s New York
2. $95.4 Million
Roy Lichtenstein, Nurse
Sold in November 2015 at Christie’s New York
3. $86.9 Million
Mark Rothko, Orange, Red, Yellow
Sold in May 2012 at Christie’s New York
4. $84.2 Million
Barnett Newman, Black Fire I
Sold at Christie’s New York
5. $81.9 Million
Mark Rothko, No. 10
Sold in May 2015 at Christie’s New York