Basquiat's 'Warrior' Could Become Most Expensive Western Artwork Auctioned in Asia

Expected to sell between $31 million and $41 million USD.

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The 1982 Jean-Michel Basquiat painting entitled Warrior is set to become the most expensive piece of Western artwork to be auctioned in Asia, expecting to be sold between $31 million and $41 million USD. The piece will be sold at next month’s Christie’s Hong Kong sales event.

Even if the painting reaches the lower range of the estimate, the Basquiat piece will be amongst the top 10 Basquiat paintings to ever auction. The most recent Basquiat painting, Flesh and Spirit (1982) sold for $30.7 million USD at Sotheby’s in 2018.

Christie’s international director of postwar and contemporary art, Cristian Albu, calls the painting “simply a masterpiece.” Warrior is an acrylic, oilstick and spray paint on wood panel. The painting, which features the signature Basquiat skull-like head was initially purchased the piece at Sotheby’s London in 2012 for $8.7 million USD. If Warrior sells within the estimated range, the painting would have drastically increased.

The sale of Warrior continues to emphasize the rise of Basquiat pieces in the art world. Since 2013, nine of the top ten most expensive Basquiat works were from the same year Warrior was completed. Albu said, “In ’82, he was at the height of his artistic power,” Albu said. “If you look at this it’s like a self-portrait. He had no shame to express what he wanted to express.”

1981-2 are considered the artist’s most valuable era and paintings during this time frame have become increasingly scarce. With each year, “they become rarer and rarer. Most of them now are in museums or private foundations,” claims Albu.

If the Basquiat sells well during the Christie’s Hong Kong auction, the piece will outdo a 2020 Asia contemporary art record, set by a Gerhard Richter piece. Last winter, Christie’s Hong Kong achieved the highest total sales for an Asian auction house, claiming 17 records for contemporary artists in its December 2020 sale.

The Basquiat will go on sale at Christie’s Hong Kong on March 23 during a single-lot sale titled, We Are All Warriors.

Check out Christie’s for more information.

In other art news, Eden Seifu champions people of color in her surrealist paintings.

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