NEW YORK – Christie’s have announced the sale of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Untitled (Boxer), 1982 from the collection of musician and renowned collector Lars Ulrich in the New York Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale on 12 November 2008. One of the most important works by Basquiat to come to auction, Untitled (Boxer) features an exhilarating depiction of a black heavy-weight fighter, which the artist saw as a self-portrait, and is poised to establish a record price for the artist at auction. It will be on public view from today at Christie’s, 8 King Street, London.
According to International Co-Head of Post-War and Contemporary Art, Brett Gorvy: “It is very exciting to be able to offer such an extraordinary work by Basquiat at auction. Lars has been an incredible collector, passionate and intelligent in his approach, often pursuing specific works for several years before he made a purchase. Untitled (Boxer) is the very best of the artist.”
Jean-Michel Basquiat was a street-smart graffiti artist who escalated to superstar status in the 1980’s. His short and brilliant career ended prematurely with a heroin overdose in 1988. Executed in 1982, at the height of Basquiat’s creative development and fame, Untitled (Boxer), is acclaimed as one of the artist’s greatest works. This electrifying painting is dominated in the forefront by an enormous, powerful figure of a Boxer, with upraised arms. The work demonstrates Basquiat’s signature mix of art historical precedent with the raw primitivism of urban graffiti, and is an icon for Black America: his hero is both a triumphant warrior and a crucified victim.
A stunning and supreme master work by Basquiat, Untitled (Boxer) was the highlight of the major Basquiat retrospective held in 2005-2006, which traveled to the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, where it was the main banner for the exhibition. The painting is expected to set a new world auction record for a work by the artist when it is offered at Christie’s.
Lars Ulrich, founding member, songwriter and drummer for Metallica, the critically acclaimed band that Rolling Stone described as “widely considered to be the most popular and influential heavy metal band of the past two decades.” Metallica’s current album, Death Magnetic racked up No. 1 chart positions in 32 countries. Mr. Ulrich’s deep passion and instinctive eye is reflected in his exceptional art collection. The son of Danish tennis champion Torben Ulrich, who also was heavily involved in the thriving art and music scene in Copenhagen in the 1950s and 1960s, he grew up in a culturally rich household. His Danish roots led him first to the CoBrA artists such as Asger Jorn and Karel Appel, and his deep appreciation of the raw, high energy and deeply emotive nature of these artists’ works then led him to pursue works by Jean Dubuffet, Sam Francis and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Over the last two decades, Mr. Ulrich has meticulously assembled a formidable collection of masterpieces of works that range from Contemporary art, to 20th Century design and Tribal art.
In 2002 five major works from Ulrich’s collection were sold at Christie’s Spring Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale in New York, two of which were the top two lots of the evening, including Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Profit I, which set a world auction record for the artist that was not surpassed for five years.
Lars Ulrich states, “As a collector I view myself as a caretaker of works of art, rather than simply an owner. I have been fortunate enough to have shared ten great years with this truly iconic painting by Basquiat, and it is time to put it back into circulation, and let someone else enjoy it as much as I have over the last decade.”