Sotheby’s Auctioning ’85 Basquiat from Billionaire Peter Brant’s Collection

Basquiat's auction record was set in 2017, when a 1982 painting sold for $110.5 million.

Woman looks at large painting of black vinyl record
Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Now’s the Time, (1985). Courtesy of Sotheby's

Two major paintings by Jean-Michel Basquiat are hitting the auction block in May at Sotheby's and Christie’s, with respective estimates of $30 million and $45 million.

The late artist’s work has skyrocketed in value in recent years. Basquiat’s auction record was set in 2017, when a 1982 painting sold for $110.5 million at a Sotheby’s sale. And his work’s value has appreciated by an average of 21 percent annually in the past 15 years, according to investment platform Yieldstreet.

Basquiat’s 1985 Now’s the Time will be sold by Sotheby’s at an evening sale on May 18 after being exhibited in Los Angeles and New York, the auction house announced today (April 20). Inspired by jazz musician Charlie Parker’s 1945 composition of the same name, the painting recreates the work’s vinyl and measures more than seven feet in diameter.

Estimated to sell for more than $30 million, the work is coming to auction for the first time after being in the private collection of billionaire Peter Brant, the CEO of White Birch Paper and owner of Brant Publications.

Blockbuster auctions in May

“It is a daring claim by the young artist at the absolute height of his powers—and today, when his artistic vernacular is so universally renowned, the starkly black and minimal vinyl record is an undeniable standout and iconic masterwork of Basquiat’s career,” said Kelsey Leonard, head of Sotheby’s New York contemporary evening auction, in a statement.

Colorful triptych painting with various symbols and iconography
Jean-Michel Basquiat’s El Gran Espectaculo (The Nile), (1983). Courtesy of Christie's.

Meanwhile, Christie’s will sell Basquiat’s 1983 El Gran Espectaculo (The Nile) on May 15. Previously owned by gallerist and book publisher Enrico Navarra, the painting focuses on “issues of representation of the African diaspora within the larger context of world history,” according to a Christie’s press release published yesterday (April 19).

“Painted when Basquiat was just 22, this seminal triptych perfectly illustrates the specific and nuanced way the young artist grappled with the process of understanding and unpacking historical constructs of race on a global stage,” said Alex Rotter, Christie’s chairman of 20th and 21st century art, in a statement.

With an estimate of $45 million, proceeds of the sale will benefit Academia Valentino, an Italian institution focused on art, fashion and education.

Yellow and black digital drawing made up of lines and circles
Dmitri Cherniak, Ringers #879 (The Golden Goose), (2021) Courtesy of Sotheby's

Another Sotheby’s auction in May will see the sale of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) owned by Three Arrows Capital, the now-bankrupt crypto hedge fund. The collection of seven works includes digital pieces by artists such as Tyler Hobbs and Dmitri Cherniak, marking “an important moment in the rise of generative art in the blockchain in 2021,” according to the auction house.

Meanwhile, Christie’s is also set to break records with the upcoming May 11 sale of Henri Rousseau’s 1910 Les Flamants painting, as reported by the Financial Times. The work has an estimate of $20 million to $30 million, and is expected to surpass Rousseau’s previous auction record of $4.4 million from 1993.

The painting is being sold from the estate of the late Payne Whitney Middleton, daughter of Joan Whitney Payson, the former owner and co-founder of the New York Mets.

Correction: Basquiat’s artwork has appreciated by an average 21 percent annually over the past fifteen years, not by 21 percent in total during that time as a previous version of this article stated. 

Sotheby’s Auctioning ’85 Basquiat from Billionaire Peter Brant’s Collection