Jean-Michel Basquiat has long reigned as one of the top-grossing artists in marquee New York auctions, and the legendary artist’s market presence remained strong at a sale in Hong Kong, where his 1982 painting Warrior went for HKD 323.6 million ($41.7 million) with buyer’s premium at a Christie’s sale on Tuesday. Warrior now ranks among the most expensive Basquiat works ever sold at auction.
Ahead of the auction house’s back-to-back 20th century art and Surrealist evening scheduled to take place in London later today, the painting, which depicts a crowned figure wielding a sword, sold during a live-streamed single-lot sale titled “We Are All Warriors.” It was led by Christie’s global president Jussi Pylkannen, who was based in London.
Three phone bidders from Hong Kong and New York competed for the work. Going to a buyer on the phone with Hong Kong specialist Jacky Ho, the guaranteed work hammered at HKD 280 million, in the middle of its estimate of $31 million–$41 million (HKD 240 million–HKD 320 million).
The seller of the painting was German-American real-estate developer and art collector Aby Rosen, who also owns works by Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Cy Twombly, Alexander Calder, Damien Hirst, and Richard Prince. Rosen purchased the work at Sotheby’s London in 2012 for $8.7 million, where it was estimated at $7.8 million–$10.9 million. Prior to its sale in 2012, the work—once held by the Mugrabi family—sold at Sotheby’s London in 2007 for $5.6 million and, before that, in 2005 for $1.8 million.
First exhibited in 1983 in Tokyo at Akira Ikeda Gallery, the work eventually traveled to exhibitions in Paris, Vienna, and Milan in the coming decades. It was last showcased in 2019 in the inaugural exhibition of the Brant Foundation’s New York space.
The sale has continued the market ascent for Basquiat that has been ongoing since 2013, when Dustheads (1982) sold at Christie’s New York, bringing in $48.8 million. Before today’s sale, 9 of the 10 most expensive Basquiat works were from the same year Warrior was completed.