Native New Yorker whose journey from graffiti in the street to top galleries heads Bonhams London Contemporary art sale

A rare work by the New York artist, Jean-Michel Basquiat (December 22, 1960 – August 12, 1988) whose artistic journey took him from graffiti in the streets of his native city to its leading galleries and an untimely death at the age 28, heads Bonhams Contemporary Art auction on 16th October.

Untitled, 1982, which carries an estimate of £800,000-1,200,000, is a work produced during one of the most creative and innovative periods of the artist's career, when he was preparing for his first solo show in the USA, a show which was to garner critical and commercial success and which was to launch him as a force to be reckoned with in the contemporary art world.

A native New Yorker, Basquiat's incredible output and legacy can be clearly linked to the city's burgeoning creative scene of the early 1980s when the artist, along with his friend and contemporary Keith Haring, moved from making impromptu graffiti pieces on the street to exhibiting in high-end galleries. With its dramatic use of oil stick and representation of a haunting mask-like head, Untitled, 1982 includes many of Jean-Michel Basquiat's signature techniques and reveals the inspiration of African tribal art that was so important to the artist's iconic style.

Despite his early demise from a heroin overdose only six years after the completion of Untitled, 1982, Jean-Michel Basquiat's reputation has grown ever since, to the point where he is now one of the best known and most sought after artists in the world.

Bonhams October Contemporary Art auction, held to coincide with London Frieze week, will also include works by other internationally renowned artists, including an elegant 1967 white wood relief by Sergio Camargo (estimate £120,000-180,000), an exquisite Andy Warhol Portrait of Yves Saint Laurent (£200,000-300,000), vibrant works on paper by Gerhard Richter (£45,000-65,000) and Alexander Calder (£20,000-30,000) as well as a distinctive early pot by Grayson Perry featuring a portrait of Diana, Princess of Wales (£18,000-25,000).


Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to

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