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David Bowie art auction Part 1 smashes estimate exceeding 24m

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Jean-Michel Basquiat, Air Power, 1984
Jean-Michel Basquiat, Air Power, 1984

Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Air Power, which went for was one of many highlights on the first day of the David Bowie collectors auction of modern and contemporary art selling for £7.1m ($9m) against an estimate of £2.5 to £3.5 million. Collectors were not only bidding for fine works of art but a piece of David Bowie history.

The price on the Jean-Michel Basquiat artworks will have no doubt been increased by the the fact that Bowie played Andy Warhol in the 1996 film of Basquiat’s life.  In a 1996 issue of Modern Painters magazine, Bowie wrote of Jean-Michel Basquiat: “I feel the very moment of his brush or crayon touching the canvas. There is a burning immediacy to his ever evaporating decisions that fires the imagination ten or fifteen years on, as freshly molten as the day they were poured onto the canvas.” The Bowie-Basquiat connection is best known through the lens of Julian Schnabel’s 1996 film Basquiat, in which Bowie played the role of Andy Warhol, mentor and collaborator of the young artist. Air Power was acquired by Bowie the following year. “It comes as no surprise to learn that he [Basquiat] had a not-so-hidden ambition to be a rock musician,” wrote Bowie, “his work relates to rock in ways that very few other visual artists get near.”

Frank Auerbach, Head of Gerda Boehm, 1965
Frank Auerbach, Head of Gerda Boehm, 1965

Frank Auerbach’s Head of Gerda Boehm fetched £3.8m ($4.8m). Bowie loved the rich, sculptural effects of Auerbach’s paintings.

The 47 lots in the sale took £24.3m ($30.7m) – more than double the sale estimate.

Other sale highlights

  • £797,000: Peter Lanyon – Witness
  • £785,000: Damien Hirst with David Bowie – Beautiful, hallo, space-boy painting
  • £755,000: Damien Hirst – Beautiful, shattering, slashing, violent, pinky, hacking, sphincter painting
  • £665,000: Patrick Caulfield – Foyer
  • £581,000: Henry Moore – Family group
  • £557,000: Marcel Duchamp – With hidden noise (a bruit secret)


The sale continues on the 11th.


The Auctions:

Part I: Modern & Contemporary Art, Evening Auction, 10 November
Part II: Modern & Contemporary Art, Day Auction, 11 November
Part III: Post-Modernist Design: Ettore Sottsass and the Memphis Group, 11 November

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