NEW YORK - A canvas painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat on Thursday was sold at $110.5 million during the night auction of contemporary art held in New York by Sotheby's, the highest price ever paid at auction for a work by an American artist.
Basquiat (1960-1988), born to Haitian father and Puerto Rican mother, achieved a historic mark as the painting called "Untitled" was sold at a record price during a 10-minute auction, the longest bidding period of the night.
The Brooklyn painter's "Untitled" practically has not appeared on the market since 1984.
On Thursday night, the bids for the painting began to rise, particularly during its last stage when it became a duel between two bidders.
The canvas painting was finally sold to Japanese businessman and art collector Yusaku Maezawa, founder of online trading giant Start Today.
The painting, 1.83 meters high and 1.73 meters wide and showing a skull-shaped figure painted with acrylic, greasy pencil and aerosol, marks a milestone in Basquiat's short artistic career.
The artist died at the age of 27 from drug overdose after living a complicated life.
Considered one of his most important works, Basquiat composed "Untitled" in 1982, when he was virtually unknown in the art world.
It was later bought by a private collector for $19,000 in 1984 during an auction.
Thursday night's auction is significant because the work had been well reserved by the same hand for 33 years. Sotheby's earlier estimated that the painting could fetch about $60 million, yet at the end of the auction the price almost doubled.
The price settled during Thursday's auction breaks a previous record that another work of Basquiat's had set as it reached $57.3 million at an auction held by Christie's in 2016.