The notoriously private Basquiat estate, headed by the late artist’s father Gerard Basquiat, is selling several artworks this spring at Sotheby’s. While the works are said to be mostly minor examples, the sale itself is unusual. The estate rarely sells artworks, according to sources. Income is mainly derived from royalties from merchandise and products.
One possible explanation for the sale is a move to raise cash to pay estate taxes in connection with the death of the artist’s mother, Matilde Basquiat, who died in November 2008. When Jean-Michel died in 1988, he left no will, according to sources. A lawyer explained to me that it is likely that the artist’s assets were split between the his parents who never divorced, but were estranged.
Sources didn’t how much art the estate contains, but one informed person said there are a large quantity of paintings. Jeffrey Deitch, Tony Shafrazi and John Cheim are among a few dealers who have regularly sold Basquiat over the years.
There is also an authentication committee which includes Cheim, collector Larry Warsh and Gerard Basquiat.