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Record for US artist

Former $50 graffiti artist’s work sold for $110.5m

Basquiat skull painting (Yusaku Maezawa, Instagram)

A painting by a late graffiti artist who once made $50 for selling his art on the streets has been sold for $110.5m (£85.4m).

The price fetched for the work by New Yorker Jean-Michel Basquiat, who died in 1988, became the most expensive work by any US artist.

It is the first piece created since 1980 to break the $100m mark and puts him in the same price league as Pablo Picasso and Francis Bacon. It is the sixth most expensive work ever sold at auction, and only the 11th to break the $100million barrier.

It had been in the private collection of New York art collectors Jerry and Emily Spiegel since they bought it at auction in 1984 for just $19,000, according to Bloomberg. When they died in 2009 it passed to their daughters as part of their collection.

The untitled work, measuring 72-by-68-inch is created in oil stick, acrylic and spray paint. It was sold at Sotheby’s to Yusaku Maezawa, a 41-year-old Japanese fashion entrepreneur who previously paid about the half the price for another painting by the same artist.

Mr Maezawa posted a photo of himself with that the painting on Instagram and said it made him feel “so much excitement and gratitude for my love of art”.

Last year he paid $57.3m for a painting by Basquiat of a horned devil.

Basquiat was born in New York in 1960 to a Haitian father and mother of Puerto Rican descent. He was a high school drop-out  who left home as a teenager and sold hand-painted postcards and T-shirts to make money – including one postcard sold to Andy Warhol.

He received public acclaim with a show of his art at The Times Square Show in 1980 but died on 12 August 1988, of a heroin overdose, in his Manhattan art studio.

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