Basquiat skull painting just sold for a record $110.5 million

There’s the art that adorns your fridge, created lovingly by your preschooler, and then there’s art, like this painting created by Jean-Michel Basquiat.

This abstract painting of a skull titled “Untitled” just sold for a cool $110.5 million at auction. Yes, you read that right—$110.5 million for one painting.


Basquiat, who died of a drug overdose in 1988, created the expensive masterpiece in 1982. It sold at a Sotheby’s auction of contemporary art. This was the highest price ever fetched for a Basquiat painting and the highest ever fetched for an American artist at auction.

“Tonight, Jean-Michel Basquiat entered the pantheon of artists whose works have commanded prices over $100 million, including Picasso, Giacometti, Bacon, and Warhol,” said Gregoire Billault, head of Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Department in New York, according to the Associated Press.

As if the painting and the price tag weren’t enough, there was a 10-minute bidding war that thousands of people saw on Instagram. Japanese collector Yusaku Maezawa won the piece in the end. He plans to loan it to museums around the world—how thoughtful.

The piece was initially purchased at auction in 1984 for $19,000. So if the stock market doesn’t suit you, maybe now’s the time to consider investing in artwork.

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Sarah Kuta

Sarah Kuta is an award-winning writer and editor based in Colorado. She writes regularly about how to find deals, save money and find side gigs. Reach her at sarah@dontwasteyourmoney.com. More.

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