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Basquiat Goes for Record $16.3 Million at Auction

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While the art market in general is experiencing the usual ebbs and flows of fortune, some artists' works are still managing to command more money than ever on the auction block.

An untitled 1981 painting on wood by Jean-Michel Basquiat sold Thursday at Phillips de Pury & Co. for $14.5 million for a total, after premium, of $16.3 million.

“It’s not that big, and it’s on wood, which isn’t for everybody,” art dealer Christophe Van de Weghe, who bailed at $9 million, told GalleristNY. "It’s good that he has a new auction record, but I’ve known ones to go for much more on the private market.” Others at the auction agreed that Basquiats were privately fetching as much as $20 million. The previous Basquiat auction record was for a 1982 untitled work that Christie's New York sold in 2008 for $13.5 million.

The Basquiat wasn't the only work to see a record take this week. A 1970 blackboard painting by Cy Twombly, who died last summer, raked in the most ever for one of the artist's works at auction on Wednesday, when Sotheby's (BID) sold it for $17.4 million. The same evening, Roy Lichtenstein's 1964 Sleeping Girl also broke records for his work at auction, going for $44.9 million.

Not everyone's investment did quite so well, however. The previous owner of a 1986 Robert Mangold managed to recoup only $602,500 for a work he bought for $937,000 in four years ago. A 1962 Claes Oldenburg piece that featured a Popsicle, hammer and price tag cleared $458,500 at Thursday's Phillips de Pury auction, $173,500 less than the seller paid for it in 2006.
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