On Thursday, during a sale in London, Sotheby’s auctioneer Oliver Barker unveiled a 1982 painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat that the house will offer for sale in its New York contemporary art evening sale on May 12. Titled Versus Medici (1982), the painting is expected to fetch a price of $35 million–$50 million. If the work reaches its low estimate, it will be among the most expensive works by the artist ever sold at auction.
The painting shows influence from Basquiat’s time in Modena, Italy, where he had his first solo show, at Galleria d’Arte Emilio Mazzoli in 1981. The title of the piece references the Renaissance-era Medici family, and it has some of the signature Basquiat motifs—a full skeletal figure, a crown, anatomical drawings and scrawled phrases in the background—that are coveted by collectors.