The Banal and the Extreme

Jonathan T.D. Neil considers the high theatre of the art market

By Jonathan T.D. Neil

There is something a tad incredible, or unbelievable, about the recent record-setting $110.5 million sale of an untitled Jean-Michel Basquiat painting at Sotheby’s New York on 18 May. First there is the fact the work was bought by a young Japanese billionaire. With its echoes of the late-1980s, who cannot but think that this is a marker of hyper art-market inflation, now updated for the Instagram age (Instagram is where the buyer, Yusaku Maezawa, chose to first display his new…

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