A Sotheby's official speaks about an untitled painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat during a media preview May 5, 2017 at Sotheby's In New York.                           
The piece is one of the creations to be auctioned during the Impressionist and Modern Art evening sale May 16, 2017 in New York / AFP PHOTO / Don Emmert        (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
© AFP

“Untitled,” a painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat, sold for $110,487,500 at Sotheby’s on Thursday night, a record price for work by an American artist at auction.

The painting, unveiled for the first time in 30 years, sold for $98m at hammer at the auction house’s contemporary art sale. The price is also the highest-ever at auction for a work created after 1980.

The painting, from 1982, was last sold in May 1984 at Christie’s for $19,000.

The buyer, Yusaku Maezawa, a Japanese billionaire art collector, said: “When I first encountered this painting, I was struck with so much excitement and gratitude for my love of art. I want to share that experience with as many people as possible.”

According to a Sotheby’s fact sheet, the painting will eventually end up in a museum in Mr Maezawa’s home town of Chiba in Japan.

The previous record for work by an American artist was held by Andy Warhol’s silver car crash, which sold at auction for $105,445,000.

Oliver Barker, senior director and chairman of Sotheby’s Europe, said: “It really shows the strength of the market as well as a very determined group of bidders.

“It pushes Basquiat on to a whole new platform. I think it’ll be some time before we see this record broken.”

There were about four contenders, with bidding starting at $57m and quickly rising to $66m. At around $90m only two remained. Cell phones came out and audiences gasped at every increase.

Four other Basquiat works were also sold on Thursday night, for $1.2m, $3.6m, $4m and $6m including premiums.

The hammer price is the price at which people have bid. The premium price includes an added percentage that goes to Sotheby’s. The auction house typically charges a 12.5 per cent commission on sales above $3m.

Before its 1984 sale Untitled was in a private collection for two years and exhibited at the Alexander Milliken Gallery in New York for under two months

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