Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Estate Is Selling Vintage Vinyl from the Artist’s Foray into Music

Fifty original records will be sold at a Basquiat exhibition through Phillips' Dropshop platform.

Jean-Michel Basquiat, the late Neo-Expressionist, is best known for his colorful and raw canvases. But the artist also played a hand in the release of an iconic ’80s hip hop song, having produced and released the record through his one-off label, Tartown.

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Jean-Michel Basquiat paints in 1983 in St. Moritz, Switzerland. Lee Jaffe/Getty Images

Now, the artist’s estate is offering up numbered editions of the 1983 Beat Bop track. Featuring graffiti artists and musicians Rammellzee and K-Rob, the 10-minute track has been sampled by the likes of the Beastie Boys and in 2017 was ranked by Rolling Stone among the 100 best hip hop songs of all time. In addition to establishing his own record label to release it, Basquiat had the vinyl pressed and created a black and white design, complete with his trademark crown, for the track’s cover art. Sales of the pressed vinyl have fetched large sums at auction before—in 2020, an original copy realized $126,000, far surpassing its high estimate of $3,500.

Of the 500 original vinyl, 50 will be released by Basquiat’s estate in a special numbered edition. Numbers 2 to 40 of these are being sold on Dropshop, a new e-commerce platform introduced by auction house Phillips earlier this year. Created to facilitate a more direct connection between artists and audiences, the platform offers a “buy now” model for limited-edition releases of artwork and objects sold by artists, estates and galleries.

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The vinyl, which comes from Basquiat’s personal collection, are factory sealed and come in a handmade leather case and a signed certificate from Basquiat’s estate. With sales opening today (Nov. 2) at $4,000 per vinyl, all 39 records sold out within a minute, a Phillips spokesperson told Observer.

In addition to celebrating the legacy of Basquiat, who died in 1989 at age 27, the release of the records coincides with the 50th anniversary of Hip Hop. Phillips isn’t the only auctioneer hosting sales in honor of the landmark anniversary. Earlier this year, Sotheby’s held a sale to commemorate 50 years of the genre, in an auction that sold off items like a $1 million gold ring designed by Tupac Shakur.

Black leather case opened to show record in black and white designed sleeve
The factory-sealed vinyls come in commemorative leather cases. Courtesy of Phillips

Other records will be offered via auction and at King Pleasure

Those who missed out on the Dropshop sale will still have the opportunity to bid on another Basquiat-designed Beat Bop record. The first of the numbered editions will be sold in a Phillips auction later this month with an estimate of $4,000 to $6,000. All proceeds from the online sale, which ends Nov. 17, will benefit A Place Called Home, a nonprofit focused on providing youth in Los Angeles with arts education. The winning bidder will receive the rare vinyl along with a private tour of the ongoing Basquiat exhibition, King Pleasure, in Los Angeles, guided by the artist’s younger sisters and estate executors Lisane Basquiat and Jeanine Heriveaux.

The exhibition, which is currently being shown in The Grand LA complex, displays the evolution of Basquiat’s artwork from his teenage days to what is believed to be his last painting. In addition to previously unseen artwork, it contains various objects of family memorabilia and scene recreations from Basquiat’s childhood. The final ten numbered copies of Beat Bop will be sold at the King Pleasure Emporium, the exhibition’s gift shop.

Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Estate Is Selling Vintage Vinyl from the Artist’s Foray into Music