Two days ago, Brett Gorvy told Bloomberg he’d sold a Basquiat boxer from Christie’s private selling exhibition in Hong Kong several weeks ago to an American buyer who saw the work on his Instagram feed and leapt at the opportunity to pay $24m sight unseen.
The story has provoked a number of skeptical market professionals to try to piece together what they know of the sale. Before we get to that reconstruction below for AMMpro subscribers (the first month is free), Gorvy has taken to Instagram this morning to discuss his personal role in the Basquiat market:
It is incredible for me to think that I have been personally involved in the sale of all top ten works by Jean-Michel Basquiat ever sold, culminating in the record in May for $57.3 million. I can’t say that for any other artist. But credit where credit’s due.
What’s clear from the Lars Ulrich story is that patience pays. Ulrich’s holdings were indeed extraordinary. But he sold far too soon.
Going back to the boxer shown in Hong Kong reportedly consigned by Laurence Graff, when the work was in Hong Kong it was shown on “reserve.”
That would comport with Gorvy’s story of having been contacted before the exhibition by the American buyer. During the exhibition, but the hold was said to be from an Asian buyer. (For Gorvy’s Instagram story to be true, the claims of an Asian buyer would have to be a ruse to validate the concept of bringing a private sale to Hong Kong.)
That reserve supposedly fell through. Those active in the Basquiat market say there was no indication the work had sold until the Bloomberg piece.
Perhaps far more important to the story here is that the reported $24m selling price is substantially inflated. Some put the number as low as $18m but no one involved believes it sold for $24m.
Gorvy certainly scored a PR coup. Though it will be interesting to see whether he can continue to follow the same playbook as a private dealer where the market operates differently.