Basquiat's Knockout Sugar Ray

Christie's to offer one of Jean-Michel Basquiat's boxers, Sugar Ray Robinson, last sold in 2007, in November sale with expectations of $35 million or more.

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Sugar Ray Robinson (1982), estimate upon request

Within the body of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s work, the boxers and warriors hold a special place. The boxers combine Basquiat’s interest in timeless warriors and heroes of popular culture. Joe Louis, Cassius Clay and Sugar Ray Robinson appear in multiple works along with a number of unnamed or untitled boxer figures as well as a host of different warriors. 

Like many of Basquiat’s best known images, they remain in private hands but have traded multiple times. Christie’s announced today that it will offer Sugar Ray Robinson from 1982 in its November 17th sale with the expectation of the work selling for $35 million or more. 

This particular work was last previously seen on the market in 2007 when it sold for $7.3 million. Earlier that year, another untitled boxer from 1981, perhaps a stronger image, sold for $14.6 million. Five years later it was resold for 43% more or $20.1 million. 

Also in 2007, Warrior from 1982 sold for $5.6 million. It had been acquired only 18 months earlier for $1.5 million, almost quadrupling in price. Warrior would trade hands again also in 2012 like the boxer. But it would see a stronger 55% rise to $8.7 million. But that was nothing compared to the jump it would make nine years later when Warrior sold in Hong Kong for $41.6 million. 

Of course, much had happened in the Basquiat market in the intervening period. There was the record setting public sale of an untitled head to Yusaku Maezawa for $110 million. Private sales above that level were also made. The monumental retrospective held at the Louis Vuitton foundation in Paris that was also seen in New York at the Brant Foundation played an important role. And, of course, the family’s hugely successful King Pleasure exhibition continues to draw visitors in New York.

Previous Article
Gleaner Odalisque
FUTURES: The Broom Boom View Article
Next Article
Peter Paul Rubens,
Titian and Rubens Star in Sotheby’s Big Old Masters Season View Article