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Rare Basquiat Works From Pellizzi Collection Up for Auction at Phillips


Three paintings by Jean-Michel Basquiat, once owned by the late Italian anthropologist and editor Francesco Pellizzi, will be offered for sale at Phillips this May. The works, which have not been on the market for decades, are expected to fetch high prices.


Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled (ELMAR), 1982. PHOTO JEAN BOURBON/COURTESY PHILLIPS
Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled (ELMAR), 1982. PHOTO JEAN BOURBON/COURTESY PHILLIPS

The star of the trio is "Untitled (ELMAR)," a monumental nearly eight-foot-wide canvas created in 1982. The brightly coloured painting features Basquiat's signature imagery and is estimated to sell at about US$40 million and US$60 million.


Another significant work is "Untitled (Portrait of a Famous Ballplayer)" 1981. This painting, estimated at US$6.5 million to US$8.5 million, explores themes of race, identity, and American culture through baseball imagery and Black figures. Untitled (ELMAR) and Untitled (Portrait of a Famous Ballplayer), both from 1981, will be offered at a May 14 evening auction in New York.


Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Untitled (Portrait of a Famous Ballplayer), 1981, is estimated to sell for between $6.5 million and $8.5 million in May at Phillips in New York. Courtesy of Phillips
Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Untitled (Portrait of a Famous Ballplayer), 1981, is estimated to sell for between $6.5 million and $8.5 million in May at Phillips in New York. Courtesy of Phillips

The third offering, "Native Carrying Some Guns, Bibles, Amorites on Safari", features a Black figure confronting a colonial poacher. The painting has an estimate of between $12 million and $18 million and will be included in a May 31 auction in Hong Kong. Phillips, which opened a Hong Kong headquarters last spring, noted that Asian collectors have shown a notable interest in Basquiat's work.


"It's just so thrilling to be able to sink your teeth into three paintings that have not been on the market since they were acquired a year or so after they were made—that just doesn't happen very often," says Robert Manley, deputy chairman at Phillips, told ARTnews.


He adds to the importance of the provenance by noting, "And there's the fact that they lived almost their entire life with somebody who had a direct connection with Basquiat."


Francesco Pellizzi, who died last August, was a friend of Basquiat's early dealer and a respected figure in the art world. His collection offers a unique glimpse into the artist's career and creative process.


The high estimates for these works reflect the strong market for Basquiat's art. Phillips sold another untitled Basquiat from 1984 for US$45.3 million in 2018, and the artist's auction record stands at US$110 million for a 1982 painting.


For more information, visit Phillips

 

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Rare Basquiat Works From Pellizzi Collection Up for Auction at Phillips

May 11, 2024

Obidike Okafor

2 min read

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