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Basquiat’s ‘Portrait of A-One A.K.A King’ to fetch $15 million at Phillips

20200817 Basquiat
Jean-Michel Basquiat’s ‘Portrait of A-One A.K.A King’ (1982) will be offered publicly for the first time in over 30 years at Phillips. Image: Phillips

The masterwork by the late Neo-Expressionist master Jean-Michel Basquiat will go under the hammer during Phillips’ Evening Sale of 20th Century & Contemporary Art, which will take place in November.

“Portrait of A-One A.K.A. King” was created in 1982 at the apex of Basquiat’s career, when he was producing important works of art, free from the constraints and pressures of gallerists and the art market.

The painting depicts his frequent collaborator and fellow New York graffiti artist A-One standing before a wall covered in tags, as a nod to Basquiat’s community and time as a street artist.

“Portrait of A-One A.K.A. King” also features the artist’s signature crown motif, which became one of the most enduring and recognizable pictorial tropes in Basquiat’s oeuvre.

While the six-foot-by-six-foot work was acquired in 1986 by the Mugrabi family for just $18,150 in a Sotheby’s New York sale, the painting has changed hands once again to the current anonymous seller.

“Portrait of A-One A.K.A. King” is now expected to sell for between $10 million and $15 million (approx. P486.6 million to P729.9 million) at Phillips, where it will hit the auction block alongside Joan Miró’s “Danse (Figures)” (estimated between $250,000 and $350,000 or approx. P12.1 to P17 million) and Robert Rauschenberg’s “Untitled”(estimated between $250,000 and $350,000 or approx. P12.1 to P17 million).

Ahead of the November auction, these masterpieces are now on view as part of the grand opening of Phillips’ new location in Southampton, New York.

Among the highlights from the upcoming Southampton exhibition are works by Ruth Asawa, Pablo Picasso, Jean Dubuffet, Nicolas Party, Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe and Matthew Wong.

“We’ve seen a seismic shift both in the art world and in the ecosystem of New York City. Our new location in Southampton will allow for intimate in-person viewings of exceptional works of art, jewels and watches, as well as the flexibility for our top collectors to experience artwork in person; that visceral experience is still such an integral element to appreciating art,” Phillips CEO Edward Dolman said in a statement.

Phillips is not the only auction house to have opened an outpost in Eastern Long Island in recent weeks. Aside from Sotheby’s, galleries Pace, Hauser & Wirth, Skarstedt, Van de Weghe, Michael Werner and South Etna Montauk have also expanded outside of New York City’s limit to follow potential art collectors in the Hamptons. CC


New exhibition to explore Jean-Michel Basquiat’s influence on hip-hop culture 

Want to know which artist will shine at auction? Phillips has a new tool for that

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