In a statement made on Sunday night, Christie’s announced that the Jean-Michel Basquiat online-sale will not go ahead as planned. A message on their website read; “Christie’s has decided to postpone the sale of works from the Collection of Alexis Adler. Our goal is to allow time for all parties involved to reach an equivalent level of confidence in the validity of these items, so that the sale may resume at a later date”.
The Jean-Michel Basquiat auction was stopped as the result of a lawsuit filed by the late artist’s sisters. The reason given is an issue over authenticity of several of the lots on offer. The family members have accused Christie’s over implying that the sale has the approval of the Basquiat estate. Which it clearly doesn’t. The Basquiat authentication committee which disbanded in 2012 had authenticated six of the the items and approved seven of the fifty lots in the sale. Several of the lots for sale were mentioned in a 1998 biography of the artist, “Basquiat: A Quick Killing in Art,” by Phoebe Hoban.
Last week a mural from the same collection with the words “Olive Oyl” scribbled on it sold for $569,000 just about reaching the reaching the high estimate. Another site specific work on a painted door with the phrase “Famous Negro Athletes,” sold for $773,000, just below the $800,000 bottom estimate. Both pieces had been authenticated by the Basquiat committee, A total of six pieces in the sale came with these certificates of authenticity.
Fifty of the works came from the Lower East Side apartment, where Jean-Michel Basquiat lived with his muse Alexis Adler, from 1979 to 1980. The three major works, a glyph-like work on plaster that reads Olive Oyl, a door titled within as Famous Negro Athletes and Milk painted on a radiator were highlights the First-Open sale of Post-War and Contemporary on March 6th, and a selection of 41 works and items were to be sold through a dedicated Online-Only sale to be held March 3-17.