A massive Jean-Michel Basquiat painting sold for $42.7 million at auction including fees on Tuesday, ranking among priceless pieces by the late artist, whose work from the 1980s is seeing a resurgence in demand.
The final bid of $37 million fell well below the auctioneer’s estimate, which estimated the painting to sell for between $40 million and $80 million.
“The Gilt of Gold Teeth” is one of a handful of works produced during a month-long stay in Modena, Italy, considered by historians to be one of the most important periods of the artist’s career.
The painting centers around Baron Samedi’s depiction of Basquiat, who in Haitian voodoo tradition carries the souls of the dead to the other side – but besides dying, he is associated with revelation and safe keeping, “as much about life as death”. About,” according to auction house Christie’s.
Basquiat, whose father was from Haiti, painted versions of the figure in many of his paintings, and “The Gilt of Gold Teeth” is one of the earliest examples.
Like his other work, Basquiat made playful references to the cultures around him in “The Guilt of Gold Teeth” – the word “espuria” scattered across the top left of the canvas is thought to have been taken over by Christie’s on “aspirare”. Is. , “Italian” for “ambitious.”
The painting was last sold at auction in 1998, when it was brought to $387,500, slightly less than the auction estimate of $400,000 to $500,000.