Basquiat’s Warrior, a 1982 painting auctioned as part of Christie’s Hong Kong’s Global Spring Season of 20th Century sales, has become the most expensive Western artwork ever sold at auction in Asia. A symbol of Black man’s hardship in a white-dominated world portrays a bold, anatomical subject brandishing a sword and shield with made with forceful lines alongside blue and yellow color blocking in the backdrop.
The work had an initial pre-sale estimate between $31-$41 million, and was offered unconventionally as a single lot. It led the live-streamed evening sale as the most expensive work sold that evening ($41.9 million with fees) which also included several old masterworks including a rediscovered portrait by Vincent van Gogh entitled La Mousmé, setting a milestone for the Western art market in Asia.
“Basquiat is one of the strongest markets coming out of the pandemic,” said Christophe van de Weghe, a dealer who specializes in Basquiats told the Times. “It’s worldwide. You can sell Basquiat, like Picasso, to someone in India or Kazakhstan or Mexico. You can have a 28-year-old spending millions on Basquiat and you can have a guy who is 85. He appeals to all kinds of people, from rappers to hedge-fund guys.”