Jean-Michel Basquiat’s painting “In this Case” sold for $93.1 million in an auction Tuesday at Christie’s in New York, the second-highest price paid for a work by the late artist.
The 1983 painting, which depicts a skull on a red background, sold for $81 million, but with fees and commissions the final price came to $93.1 million, well above the estimate of $50 million.
It was another skull, “Untitled”, that set the record for the most expensive by Basquiat (1960-1988), which went for $110.5 million in May 2017 at Sotheby’s in New York.
“In This Case” reprises two dominant themes in Basquiat’s work, anatomy and representation of African-American characters.
In a sign of Basquiat’s growing status in the art world, the same canvas was sold in November 2002 for just $999,500, barely more than a hundredth of the price paid on Tuesday.
With the exception of New York-based Basquiat, African American painters have long been undervalued by collectors and underrepresented in museums.