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Auction record for Basquiat at $110.5m in New York

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AFP, New York :
A Japanese billionaire bought a Basquiat masterpiece for $110.5 million in New York Thursday, setting a new auction record for the 20th century great nearly 30 years after his death, Sotheby's said.
The 1982 "Untitled" of a skull-like head in oil-stick, acrylic and spray paint on a giant canvas was the star lot of the auction season this May, which wraps Friday with more than $1 billion in sales.
Sotheby's said it was snapped up by the same Japanese entrepreneur, 41-year-old Yusaku Maezawa, who set the previous Jean-Michel Basquiat auction record last year, dropping $57.3 million on a self-portrait.
The $110.5 million price tag was a record for any US artist at auction and the highest at auction for a post-1980 artwork, Sotheby's said.
"I am happy to announce that I just won this masterpiece," Maezawa wrote on Instagram alongside a picture of himself with the picture.
"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."
Cheers and applause greeted the sale, which almost doubled the previous Basquiat auction record of $57 million. During bidding, the auctioneer offered occasional moments of levity and encouragement.
"It's a great masterpiece at $98 million dollars," he said to laughter in the room. The $110.5 million price tag includes the buyer's premium.
Basquiat, born in Brooklyn to Haitian and Puerto Rican parents died in 1988 of an overdose aged just 27 after a fleeting eight-year career.
"Untitled" provoked a tense 10-minute bidding war in the room and on the telephone, before ultimately going to Maezawa via telephone.

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