A woman looks at a Basquiat painting titled “In This Case,” which is auctioned at Christie’s, valued at over $ 50 million.

Source: Christie’s

As a sign that the art market is cashless, a rare painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat is being auctioned by Christie’s valued at more than $ 50 million.

The painting, one of three famous large “skull” paintings by Basquiat, will be the centerpiece of Christie’s 21st century art sale in New York in May. Christie’s auctions of the 20th and 21st centuries will also feature a more than $ 50 million Pablo Picasso and other trophy works by Claude Monet, Mark Rothko and Vincent Van Gogh – a sign that high prices are tempting sellers to part with important works.

Christie’s does not have an official estimate for the Basquiat work called “In This Case,” but the auction house will inform collectors upon request that the estimate is over $ 50 million. Traders said it could even cost twice as much.

The piece is part of a trio of “skull” paintings that Basquiat made. In 2017, another was sold for $ 110 million at a Christie’s auction. Traders said “In this case” – with its even more dramatic red and yellow color palette – could get more.

“As the final expression in the series, it is the roughest, most visceral and emotionally charged of the three paintings, with Basquiat holding nothing back,” said Ana Maria Celis, senior specialist and director of 21st century art at Christie’s.

Basquiat has quickly become a favorite among wealthy global collectors and museums, especially given the growing awareness of issues of racial justice and diversity. His “Warrior” painting sold for $ 42 million in Hong Kong last year. This makes it the most expensive Western work of art that has ever been auctioned in Asia.

While Christie’s does not comment on the seller’s identity, dealers say it is a European collector and that bids are expected from around the world.

“The appetite for Basquiat’s work is global and has increased dramatically in recent years,” said Celis.