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Over Two Decades Later, Basquiat Self-Portrait Goes To Sotheby’s

The giant Basquiat self-portrait, unseen since 1999, will finally hit the auction block at Sotheby’s during the fall.

The painting, titled ‘Self-Portrait as a Hell (Part Two)’ is an 8-feet-tall work created by Jean Basquiat in 1982. The work was first sold at Gagosian shortly after its creation; Belgian collector Stéphane Janssen bought it. In 1999 it was sold to an anonymous buyer for $772,000. Since then, the work has remained in private collection, away from the public eye.

However, this will change on November 15, when the painting will finally go on sale at the Sotheby’s evening sale of contemporary art. Large-scale works by prominent contemporary artists are rare, and the painting is expected to fetch anywhere between $40 million – $60 million. Another large-scale painting by Basquiat sold for a record-breaking $110 million in 2017. While the current work would likely not break this record, even selling within its estimates would make it one of the most valuable contemporary artworks. The painting will also go on public view from November 1.

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The work was created by Jean-Michel Basquiat early in his career when he moved out of New York and lived in Los Angeles. Living in LA allowed him relative privacy even as his career was soaring. During his LA stay, Basquiat made three works that had the word ‘heel’ in them. In urban lingo, ‘heel’ is used to refer to a delinquent. The word has since been co-opted by professional wrestling to refer to the ‘villain’ (as opposed to ‘face’ or ‘hero’).