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Sept. 24, 2021, 3:45 p.m. EDT

Basquiat’s 1982 ‘Red Warrior’ Could Fetch up to HK$200 Million at Sotheby’s

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Hoping to tap intoJean-Michel Basquiat’s popularity among young Asian collectors, Sotheby’s will offer an iconic “warrior” painting of his in Hong Kong next month.

The 1982 Untitled (Red Warrior) , with an estimate of between HK$150 million and HK$200 million (US$19.3 million and US$25.7 million), will highlight Sotheby’s Hong Kong evening auction of contemporary art on Oct. 9.

Often interpreted as a self portrait measuring 77-by-78 inches, the canvas depicts Basquiat’s (1960-88) trademark motif of a warrior in red, arm raised, sword in hand, and poised to attack. It is one of just a handful of “warriors'' paintings left in private hands, Sotheby’s said.

“Basquiat was the ultimate warrior, taking on the establishment and defiantly positioning himself at the center of his canvases and of the new order he single-handedly created,” Alex Branczik , chairman of modern and contemporary art of Sotheyb’s Asia, said in a statement. “He is now a global phenomenon who captivates not only the world’s top collectors but also the collective imagination of our entire generation.” 

The canvas was offered from a private, anonymous collector, marking its auction debut as well as the first appearance in Asia, Sotheby’s said.

1982 is considered Basquiat’s “Golden Year,” during which the 22-year-old artist painted about 200 major canvas works. His auction record was set by a 1982 skull painting, another signature motif of his, which sold for US$110.5 million at Sotheby’s New York in 2017. And Versus Medici , also painted in 1982, sold at Sotheby’s this May for US$50.8 million.

In Asia, Basquiat’s works have been closely sought-after among younger generations of collectors. His Warrior (1982), depicting   a sword-wielding warrior in black, sold for HK323.6 million at a Christie's Hong Kong auction in February, becoming the most valuable artwork ever sold in Asia. Christie’s will offer Basquiat’s “,”   a multimedia work inspired by Leonardo da Vinci , on Oct. 15, with a presale high estimate of £10 million. 

In May, Sotheby’s sold a Basquiat 1985 Untitled canvas for HK$290 million during its “Contemporary Curated” sale in Hong Kong, in collaboration with music mogul and art collector Jay Chou. Untitled (Red Warrior) will be on public view at Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center from Oct. 7-9.

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