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Jean-Michel Basquiat Leads Christie's 20th/21st Century $54.48m Sale

3 min read  · 14 Oct 2023

Future Sciences Versus the Man by Jean-Michel Basquiat sold for $12.71m. Image copyright the artist's estate, courtesy of Christies

Discover key data points, top sellers and talking point at Christie's 20th/21st Century: London Evening Sale on October 13, 2023.

All sales results are hammer prices plus premiums.

Auction breakdown

  • The sale totalled: $54.48m.

  • Pre-sale estimates (excluding premiums): $49.52m (low) and $70.9m (high).

  • The sell-through rate was 85% of the 53 lots.

  • 51 works went under the hammer, with two withdrawals announced on the evening and 7 bought-in.

The top lot by value was: Jean-Michel Basquiat, Future Sciences Versus the Man (1982), which sold for $12.71m, 15% above estimate. It has been traded 5 times in the past.

The top lot above its low estimate was: Salvo, Il giorno fu pieno di lampi la sera verranno le stelle (The day was full of lightning in the evening stars will come out) (1991), which sold for $844,700, 700% above it low estimate. The painting by the late Italian artist has been traded 3 times in the past.

Breakdown of results against auction house estimates

21 works, or 40%, of works sold above their estimate.

18 works, or 34%, sold within their estimate.

6 works, or 11%, sold below their low estimate.


Guaranteed works included:

Mark Bradford, Value 87 (2009), estimated at $1.46m (low) to $2.18m (high), which sold for $2.3m, 158% above its low estimate. It has been traded once in the past.


7 works were bought-in.

Bought-in works had a total estimated value of: $6.78m (low) to $9.54m (high).

They included: Yayoi Kusama, Flame (1992) estimated at $2.19m (low) to $3.05m (high). It has been traded once in the past.


Works withdrawn before the sale included:

Jadé Fadojutimi, The Pour (2022) estimated at $487,500 (low) to $731,200 (high).

Talking point

Pam Evelyn, Worked on Earth (2020, estimated at $36,000 (low) to $61,000 (high), which sold for $137,000, 350% above its low estimate. The painting has been traded once in the past, acquired directly from the young artist, who has recently joined Pace Gallery.

The sale, a highlight of Frieze Week, was solid in a jittery market, with works by Jenna Gribbon, Louis Fratino and Winston Branch also in demand on the evening.

Auction jargon

Guarantees: Sometimes an auction house guarantees to pay a seller for a work, regardless of whether the bidding reaches the reserve price, a figure that is typically confidential.

Bought-in: If there are no bids for a work, or if bidding falls short of the reserve price, the lot is unsold or “bought-in”.

Withdrawn: This happens when a seller decides, for whatever reason, to withdraw a work before the bidding begins.


Jean-Michel Basquiat