Is this the most expensive work of Art Basel? A dealer put on the market a $ 40 million fresh paint by Jean-Michel Basquiat


A painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat which arrives on the market for the first time is one of the centerpieces of Art Basel, which opens today in the Swiss city on the Rhine. Painted in 1983, Hardware store is offered by the Van de Weghe Gallery in New York for $ 40 million, making it one of the most expensive items at the fair.

The largest and most prestigious of the three Art Basel fairs, this year’s event has once again been postponed from its usual June slot due to the pandemic, and compromised by Swiss Covid-19 protocols. But at the eleventh hour, the country changed its policy to allow people who have received the AstraZeneca vaccine outside the EU to obtain the country’s Covid certificate.

Hardware store is one of the artist’s largest crossbar diptychs, measuring approximately 7 feet high and 11 feet wide. One canvas is yellow, the other blue, with heads and skulls floating amid scribbled words and phrases like “estimated value” and “eel.”

Basquiat, already a market star, rose to the top of the charts this year, with sales generating $ 302.7 million in the first half of 2021, just behind Picasso. The late artist also swept the top five lots in the contemporary art category, which covers artists born between 1945 and 1974, according to the upcoming Artnet Intelligence Report in fall 2021. Leading the pack was In that case (1983), which grossed $ 93.1 million at Christie’s in May.

Hardware store has been in the same private collection since the year it was painted, according to art dealer Christophe Van de Weghe. It was presented in major Basquiat exhibitions, notably in New York, at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1992-1993, and in Paris, at the Fondation Louis Vuitton in 2018-19.

The work is published in the three-volume Basquiat monograph published in 2010 by Galerie Enrico Navarra, listed as held by an unspecified private collection, courtesy of Galerie Bruno Bischofberger. In the catalog of its exhibition, the Louis Vuitton Foundation cited the lender as the Bischofberger Collection from Männedorf-Zurich. Bruno Bischofberger started working with Basquiat after leaving the Annina Nosei gallery in 1982 and remained its main dealer worldwide until the artist’s death in 1988.

Refusing to comment on the identity of the seller, Van de Weghe only said that the painting had never been put on the market. In 1983 it was included in Basquiat’s second solo exhibition at Galerie Bruno Bischofberger, but it was not for sale at the time, Van de Weghe said.

“This painting has incredible visual power,” said Van de Weghe. “I convinced the owner, who is a good friend, that the time has come to sell.”

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