A Painting by Warhol and Basquiat Is Poised to Shatter the Pair’s Shared Auction Record

Despite contrasting styles, the two artists enjoyed a fruitful partnership in the early 1980s.

Large scale canvas filled with graphics, numbers, colorful swatches of paint and paintings of heads
Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled, (1984). Courtesy Sotheby's

In 1983, gallerist Bruno Bischofberger made the fateful suggestion that Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat combine their talents on a collaborative project. Bischofberger had introduced the two artists, both darlings of New York’s vibrant art scene, the year prior.

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The duo created more than 160 works together in 1984 and 1985. Now, one of their most significant collaborative paintings is heading to auction. Untitled, from 1984, will highlight Sotheby's Contemporary Evening Auction this spring.

The painting, which stands nearly 10 feet tall and 13 feet wide, has an estimate of $18 million. It is expected to surpass the current auction record for Basquiat and Warhol collaborations, established in 2014 with the $11.4 million sale of their Zenith (1985). “Of all the Warhol-Basquiat works from this brief and fertile moment, Untitled stands out as one of the supreme examples, fully showcasing the range of their artistic powers,” said Lucius Elliot, Sotheby’s head of contemporary marquee auctions in New York, in a statement.

Black and white photo of two men (Basquiat and Warhol) standing in dark room
Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol attend a benefit for the Brooklyn Academy of Music on November 7, 1984 at Area Nightclub in New York City. Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Both Warhol and Basquiat have become auction heavyweights in the decades since their respective deaths in 1987 and 1988. Warhol’s record was set in 2022 with the $195 million sale of Shot Sage Blue Marilyn at Christie's, while Basquiat’s was established in 2017 when his 1982 painting Untitled fetched $110.5 million at Sotheby’s.

During their collaboration, Basquiat was enjoying newfound mainstream fame for his raw and graffiti-inspired paintings. Warhol, meanwhile, had already established himself as a fixture of the Pop Art movement two decades earlier with colorful silkscreens inspired by advertising and popular culture. He helped connect the younger artist to prominent figures in his network, while Basquiat inspired Warhol to explore fresh techniques. As Warhol wrote in a 1984 diary entry, “Jean-Michel got me into painting differently, so that’s a good thing.”

Their joint work was created in turns. For Untitled, Warhol first covered the work in graphics depicting a baseball mitt, tennis racket, sneakers, numbers and the logo for Zenith Electronics; Basquiat later layered the canvas with colorful strokes of paint and his signature motif of heads. Fellow artist Keith Haring, who witnessed their collaborative process first-hand, once described it as “a physical conversation happening in paint instead of words.”

Andy Warhol x Jean-Michel Basquiat’s early lukewarm reception

Warhol and Basquiat’s joint efforts were unveiled in 1985 at an exhibition at Tony Shafrazi Gallery, where their paintings were largely panned. A New York Times review described the work as “large, bright, messy, full of private jokes and inconclusive,” summarizing the show as “one of Warhol’s manipulations.”

Despite early criticism, their collaborative paintings have gained traction in recent years. The artistic project inspired the 2022 play The Collaboration, which debuted on London’s West End and the Young Vic before coming to Broadway. In 2023, Warhol and Basquiat’s joint works starred in the Basquiat x Warhol: Painting Four Hands retrospective at Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, with a selection of the paintings later traveling to New York’s Brant Foundation.

The cold critical reception in 1985 “failed to see the true artistic vision of what is undoubtedly the most important artistic collaboration of the 20th century,” said Grégoire Billault, Sotheby’s chairman of contemporary art, in a statement. “Nearly 40 years later, the collaborative works are now, rightfully, seen as a landmark and an integral part of both artists’ bodies of work, synthesizing their contrasting styles and visions with total iconoclasm.”

Untitled will be exhibited across Hong Kong, London and Los Angeles in April before returning to New York for the May sale.

A Painting by Warhol and Basquiat Is Poised to Shatter the Pair’s Shared Auction Record