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This painting just became the most expensive artwork ever sold at auction

A Sotheby’s official speaks about an untitled painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat during a media preview May 5, 2017 at Sotheby’s In New York. Photo: Don Emmert/ AFP/ Getty Images.

A large-abstract painting of a skull has become the world’s most expensive piece of art sold at auction.

According to the New York Times, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s “powerful” untitled skull painting, created in 1982, has joined the $US100 Million plus club, previously dominated by better known names such as Picasso, by selling for $US110.5 million ($AU149 million).

The auction, held at Sotheby’s in New York on Wednesday, drew gasps from the crowd as the price “sailed past” the expected $US60 million mark.

The buyer is Japanese billionaire and Basquiat fan Yusaku Maezawa, who purchased another of the artist’s eclectic works in 2016 – a steal at just $US57.3 million.

Photo: Don Emmert/ AFP/ Getty Images.

The skull painting has been unseen in public since it was bought at auction by a private buyer in 1984, when Basquiat was still relatively unknown. That time the buyer paid just US$19,000.

Outside his art, Basquiat is most famous for starting out as homeless graffiti artist. Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Basquiat died at just 27 of a heroin overdose, leaving a large body of work in his trade mark frenetic, expressive style.

Prior to this sale, Time Magazine says the most expensive painting bought at auction was Picasso’s Nude, Green Leaves and Bust, which sold at Christies in 2010 for US$106.5 million.

This article originally appeared on Stuff.co.nz. Read the original article here.

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